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Local gymnasts catch lightning at the Falls

Woolwich Gymnastic Club’s competitive team didn’t disappoint at last week’s Lightning by the Falls Competition in Niagara Falls, bringing home nearly 40 gold, silver, and bronze medals.

The Woolwich Gymnastics Club’s competitive team brought home nearly 40 top-three medals from the Lightning by the Falls Competition. Front row: Aurora Rueffer, Welcome Gilbert, Jordyn Kelly, Alex Kirkup, Julia Ersil. Middle row: Trinity Barnes, Allison Saulesleja, Mackenzie Simpson, Kennedy Bradley, Tegan Krieger. Back row: Makenna Heibein. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
The Woolwich Gymnastics Club’s competitive team brought home nearly 40 top-three medals from the Lightning by the Falls Competition. Front row: Aurora Rueffer, Welcome Gilbert, Jordyn Kelly, Alex Kirkup, Julia Ersil. Middle row: Trinity Barnes, Allison Saulesleja, Mackenzie Simpson, Kennedy Bradley, Tegan Krieger. Back row: Makenna Heibein. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
The team competes in it every year, said head coach Maria Code.

“This is one of the first competitions for some of the girls this season,” Code said. “It’s a big competition. The girls always look forward to it and they did really well this year.”

Of the 17 gymnasts on the team, 12 came home with medals. They competed in all four events, floor, vault, bars, and beam.

“This competition’s nice because they compete individually and then within their appropriate levels they have a team award,” Code explained. “So, the level twos won third place in team and the level threes won second. So that’s also fun for them to work together as a team.”

The competition season starts in January, but they train year-round. They hold tryouts every May for the team and start training in July. Some of the girls on the team have been competing for five years, while for others this was their first time.

“The ones that this is their first year, they’re really stepping up and doing a really great job. The older girls that have been competing for a while are nice role models to look up to,” Code said.

She said one of the most challenging parts of competing is nailing down the execution, like making sure their arms and legs are straight, keeping their toes pointed, and getting to 180 degree splits on their splits, leaps, and jumps.

“They all did really well, but I have to say one girl, Kennedy Bradley, this was her first meet and she did wonderful,” Code said. She had the highest all around [score] out of all the girls that competed on our team, just some personal highs for her. So that was really good to see.”

Bradley got first place in bars, floor, and all around, plus third in vault and beam for the level two 10-year-olds. Allison Saulesleja scored the highest in a single event for the team with a 9.9 on her floor routine, earning her a gold medal for the level three 12-year-olds. The team earned a total 14 gold, 10 silver, and 14 bronze medals.

They have three competitions left this season. The next one is in Brampton from April 16 to April 18. Then they head to Woodbridge and Milton.

“And then we have a fun meet at the end of the year here that we invite a couple clubs in,” Code said. “It’s just fun for the kids to wrap up the season with and that’s May 30.”

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