Vernon gymnasts shine in Kelowna

Sasha Hackman from Vernon’s North Valley Gymnastics Society was among the medal winners from the club that competed at the Grizzly Invitational meet May 13-15 in Kelowna. (Contributed)Sasha Hackman from Vernon’s North Valley Gymnastics Society was among the medal winners from the club that competed at the Grizzly Invitational meet May 13-15 in Kelowna. (Contributed)
Chloe Ward (clockwise, from top left), Willow Kane, Alexis Friesen (bottom photo,from right), Penny Bieber, Eilanna Johnson, Kane, Shayla Flanagan, Austin Skelly and Lily Penner were among the 20 North Valley Gymnastics Society members from Vernon competing and succeeding at the Grizzly Invitational in Kelowna May 13-15. (Contributed)Chloe Ward (clockwise, from top left), Willow Kane, Alexis Friesen (bottom photo,from right), Penny Bieber, Eilanna Johnson, Kane, Shayla Flanagan, Austin Skelly and Lily Penner were among the 20 North Valley Gymnastics Society members from Vernon competing and succeeding at the Grizzly Invitational in Kelowna May 13-15. (Contributed)
Gabby Friesen was among the 20 competitors from Vernon’s North Valley Gymnastics Club that took part in the three-day Kelowna Grizzly Invitational meet May 13-15. (Contributed)Gabby Friesen was among the 20 competitors from Vernon’s North Valley Gymnastics Club that took part in the three-day Kelowna Grizzly Invitational meet May 13-15. (Contributed)
Sasha Hackman from Vernon’s North Valley Gymnastics Society was among the medal winners from the club that competed at the Grizzly Invitational meet May 13-15 in Kelowna. (Contributed)Sasha Hackman from Vernon’s North Valley Gymnastics Society was among the medal winners from the club that competed at the Grizzly Invitational meet May 13-15 in Kelowna. (Contributed)

Vernon’s North Valley Gymnastics Society sent 20 members to the Grizzly Invitational competition May 13-15 in Kelowna, and the athletes clawed their way to excellent showings.

The event featured more than 300 gymnasts from around the province.

Sasha Hackman (2011) had a golden competition, coming first in all for the Xcel Bronze category. She also earned a gold for her uneven bar and beam routines, placed third for bronze on vault and was eighth on the floor routine.

Also competing in the Xcel category, but in the Gold level, was Chloe Ward (2008). She was second in the all around for the silver medal, earned a gold medal for a huge vault, two more silvers for beam and floor and a bronze on bars.

Emma Locke (2009), Nicole Sjoberg (2009) and Anna Skelly (2009) competed in CCP level 6. Locke continued to shine in her category, coming second in the all around. She also earned silver medals on vault and floor, a bronze on beam and a fifth-place showing on uneven bars. Sjoberg won the bronze medal for her bar routine, was fourth in the all around and on floor, fifth on vault and seventh on beam. Skelly also won a bronze medal for her vault, was fifth on floor, seventh on uneven bars, and eighth on beam.

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Competing in CCP was Willow Kane (2009). She had one of her best competitions earning the bronze medal in the all around. Kane won gold on the very difficult balance beam, a silver medal for her vault, another bronze medal for floor routine and scored a fifth-place result on uneven bars.

Elianna Johnson (2012) competed in CCP 4 with a magical bronze medal in the all around, a gold on vault, fourth on beam, fifth on uneven bars, and sixth on floor.

Shalya Flanagan (2010) along with Penny Bieber (2009), Alexis Friesen (2010) and Austin Skelly (2009) all competed in CCP Level 4. Flanagan continued to sparkle with a bronze medal in the all around, gold on uneven bars, and top-10 consistent finishes on vault, beam and floor. Bieber and Friesen were fifth and sixth, respectively, in the all around. Friesen earned a silver medal for her uneven bar routine while Bieber took the bronze medal. Skelly earned the bronze medal for her powerful vault.

Neala Hackman (2009) competed in CCP Level 7. Although she had a shaky competition, she still came away with a bronze medal for her vault, top 10 placings in uneven bars, beam and floor and seventh in the all around.

Brooklyn Stowards (2008) also competed in the Xcel Bronze category. This was her first in-person competition since the pandemic and she won a silver medal for her floor routine, fourth in the all around and beam, and finished in the top 10 on vault and bars.

The lone competitor in CCP Level 3 was Gabby Friesen (2012), who had a fourth place finish on floor where she completed her tumbling run of roundoff backhandspring on her own. Friesen also placed fourth on vault and was in the top 10 on the other events.

Other highlights from the Xcel levels were Brooklyn Lippert (bronze 2008), who placed fourth on uneven bars and Ava Miler (gold 2006) was fifth on vault. Both athletes placed in the top 10 on the other events.

Rounding out the competition were the developmental athletes competing in CCP Levels 1 and 2: Maddison Docksteader (CCP 1 2013), Annika Kurbis (CCP 2 2014), Marissa Hluchy (CCP 2 2014). These athletes receive bronze, silver or gold placings for their performances. All three athletes earned silver medals for their performances.

“All of our gymnasts had a great competition. For many of them this is their first year competing in person – we did numerous virtual competitions during COVID – so it’s a different feel for the athletes with a lot more nerves and excitement,” said North Valley head coach Naomi Rokus. “It’s been a long year since the fire in the fall and the athletes just keep giving their all. It’s wonderful to see their passion and commitment.”

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