A group of young men from across the Southeast Valley has been very busy and productive in the gym over the past two weeks.
The Arizona Olympian Boys Gymnastics Level 5 team traveled to Las Vegas and returned winners at the BlackJack National on Feb. 8, where it competed against squads from Canada, Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Texas, Wisconsin and Washington.
The first-year Level 8 team finished second. beating the Canadian gym to finish behind Colorado.
In Las Vegas, the little guys (5-9 age group) got things rolling with Riley Williams placing first in rings and second in high bar and all-around. His squadmate, Bradley Elliot, placed first in floor and vault.
Also helping the Level 5 team win first place were:
• Dakota Grainger, 10-plus age group, second in floor, pommel, rings and all-around, third in high bar;
• Seth Zimmerer, 10-plus, first in floor, third all-around;
• Joshua Griffin, 12-plus age group, second in vault;
• Steven Clements, 10-plus, third in pommel.
“Riley actually pulled off second place (in all-around) after falling in one event,” said coach and gym owner Lyle Guthrie.
“And Dakota fell, too, on his first event, which can put you in a bad frame of mind. But he bounced back to take second place in all-around,” Guthrie said.
In the Level 8 competition, Josiah Grimes tied for second in all-around missing first by one-tenth of a point. He placed first in rings and third in pommel.
His squadmate, Koby Song-Nichols, was one-tenth of a point behind, finishing fourth in all-around bolstered by a second-place finish in the floor exercise.
AZOG teams also were successful at the 2008 AZ Flairs Invitational held on Jan. 26 in Gilbert.
“This is like the pre-state championship,” Guthrie said. “Every team in the state is there.”
The AZOG Level 5 team came out on top when it went up against 68 boys from 16 Arizona gyms and one from El Paso, Texas. The Level 8 team also captured first place.
“We won by 12 points,” Guthrie said. “And if you want to compare that to something, if it had been a football game the score would have been 75-6.”
The Level 4 team took on 87 boys from 14 gyms and placed second.
This time Williams won the high bar and all-around for the Level 5s; Grainger placed first in parallel bars, pommel horse and all-around; Zimmerer was first in floor and second all-around; and Steven Clements and Griffin placed third all-around in their respective age groups.
In Level 8, Song-Nichols finished first in pommel, parallel bars, high bar, second in floor and rings, and third in vault to capture the all-around title.
Grimes was 3.7 points behind for a third-place finish in all-around after winning the rings and placing second in high bar.
Competing on the Level 4 team in the 6-7-year-old category, second-year gymnast Zachary Polen took on all comers and left them in his wake. He was first in floor, pommel, vault, parallel bars and all-around. Polen gave the other kids a break on rings and finished second.
“Zac is just a good kid,” Guthrie said. “He’s undefeated this season, very consistent and has won every meet he has entered. I don’t want to jinx him before state championships (March 8 at Phoenix Desert Vista High).”
Also in the 6-7 age group, Justin Brown placed second in vault and parallel bars and third all-around and Carson Crum was third in rings.
In the 10-plus category, Caden Murphy placed first in floor, high bar and all-around and second in pommel.
Guthrie is proud of all his teams — two Level 4s, two Level 5s and one Level 8. But he is especially pleased with the success his Level 8 squad is having.
The members’ hard work of practicing four days a week from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. is paying off as they are undefeated in the state of Arizona.
What is so special about Level 8 competition is there are no compulsory events. The coach makes up the routines so each athlete can “have a routine tailored to their body type and personality.”
“Some of these kids jumped from Level 5 to 8, so they are doing really great,” Guthrie said.
Arizona Olympian Gymnastics is located on Gilbert Road, between Ocotillo and Chandler Heights and offers programs for boys and girls in all levels. Trampoline, cheer tumbling and karate classes are also available. Call (480) 802-8559 or visit www.azolympiangymnastics.com.
• More than 1,500 gymnasts from 30 states will compete at the Arizona Sunrays Hard Rock Invitational which began Friday in the Phoenix Civic Plaza.
The weekend highlights include live bands, gymnast parties and a “spotlight session” as some of the best Elite gymnasts in the country compete tonight.
The first rotation begins today at 8:30 a.m. with an awards ceremony planned for 8 p.m. The Elite rotations are scheduled to begin at 12:15 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday’s action starts at 8 a.m. and is scheduled to continue through 7:45 p.m. For information visit www.hardrockinvitational.com.
Spring break plans?
Advantage Basketball Camps are accepting registration for 2008 spring break camp scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., March 17-20 at Arizona State University. For more information call Keiko at (480) 296-5732 or (800) 670-0013.
Tempe Rio Salado Little League is looking for umpires for the upcoming season. The season starts with majors on March 31 and minors on April 1 and runs through mid-May. Games are played at Tempe Beach Park, Escalante Park, Jaycee Park and Clark Park. For more information, contact Darnell Calhoun at (480) 298-7852.
Time’s running out
Coast to Coast Football’s spring NFL Youth flag league, right, will play March 8-May 17 at Coronado Elementary/Jr. High School in Gilbert (Higley and Germann roads) for the following age groups: 5-6 coed, 7-8 coed, 9-11 coed, 12-16 boys and 12-16 girls. Registration ends Friday. Cost is $80. For information call (480) 560-6641.
For a complete list of East Valley Recreation events, visit evtrib.com and click on the calendar. You can also post your own event. Just follow the instructions and get the word out!
Know someone who deserves mention in East Valley Victories? E-mail or call Billye Jill Paulson at email@example.com or (480) 898-6862.