Ottawa athletes are reaching sky-high levels of success.
Following their showing in April’s USA Gymnastics Region 4 Championships, members of Ottawa Skywalkers Gymnastics are vying for a trip to the national scene. Six Skywalker gymnasts competed at the Region 4 Championships April 26-29 at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee — three in the 13-14 age group and three in the 15 and over. They were among more than 700 athletes competing at the event. Region 4 is comprised of a massive chunk of the Midwest, including Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio.
Abigale Audiss, one of Ottawa Skywalkers’ national qualifiers in the 13-14 age division, has a goal of being first overall in tumbling in the nation, she said.
“I feel like I’ve done a lot through this season and now I’m going to nationals,” Audiss said. “It is great.”
Skywalker athletes have been training hard in tumbling and on the trampoline at the gym, located in Washburn Towers, 506 S. Main St., Ottawa. For Josh Wright, head coach and founder of the gym almost five years ago, seeing the kids hard work pay off is special.
“It is actually what drives my passion to do what I do,” Wright said. “Gymnastics helped shape me into who I am today through learning to compete, learning to accept loss, learning to set goals and working through all of that stuff. To be able to share that and pass that on, along with developing strong character, it is a real privilege to be able to stand next to these kids when they are up there competing. We see all the work they are putting in, and I know what it is like — how scary it is and the pressures that are on them — but it is an opportunity for them to grow, get a little bit stronger and hopefully make their lives better because of the experiences they have in here.”
The Skywalkers experienced success at the Region 4 Championships. Audiss had Ottawa’s highest placing, earning runner-up out of 19 athletes in Level 5 girls tumbling. She finished with a final scored of 54.10, just 0.20 points off of champion Madigan Mehrtans. Teammate George Keaton placed third in Level 8 boys tumbling with a score of 50.40.
The USA Gymnastics Championships are quickly approaching with plenty of work to be put in by those planning to attend, Wright said. The 2018 USA Gymnastics Championships are set for July 3-7 in Greesnboro, North Carolina, and feature national qualifiers in Levels 8 through Elite. The 2018 USA Gymnastics Stars and Stripes Championships, which feature athletes Levels 5-7, is set for July 20-22 at the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nevada.
“The ones who are going to nationals, we are really crunching down and working hard,” Wright said. “They are going to bigger competitions, more is expected and the competition is tougher, so it is the hardest part of training right now for those that are going on, and it will continue on into July.”
And for Skywalker athletes ages 13 and older, including Abigail Garcia, Briley Rein, Ragan Rein, Liam Rein, Keaton and Audiss, the commitment is huge.
“They spend a lot of time and have a lot of commitment,” Wright said. “It is not just what these kids are committing. Coaches and families sacrifice a lot to be able to give their kids this opportunity. It is a full-on family commitment.”
REGION 4 CHAMPIONSHIPS RESULTS
Abigail Garcia (Age group 13-14) — Level 5 girls tumbling: Score - 52.00; place - ninth out of 19. Level 7 girls trampoline: Score - 25.10; place - 11th out of 28. Level 7 girls double-mini: Score - 52.50; place - 13th out of 14. Briley Rein (Age group 13-14) — Level 7 girls tumbling: Score - 44.70; place - 13th out of 17. Level 7 girls trampoline: 25.00; place - 12th out of 28. Level 8 double-mini: Score - 59.00; place - 12th out of 22. Ragan Rein (Age group 15 and over) — Level 9 girls trampoline: Score - 55.90; place - 12th out of 19. Level 9 girls double-mini: Score - 60.00; place - seventh out of 18. Liam Rein (Age group 15 and over) — Open Elite boys trampoline: place - fourth. George Keaton (Age group 15 and over) — Level 8 boys tumbling: Score - 50.40; place - third out of five. Level 9 boys trampoline: Score - 24.70; place - 14th. Level 9 boys double-mini: Score - 50.30; place - Eighth out of 10. Abigale Audiss (Age group 13-14) — Level 5 girls tumbling: Score - 54.10; place - second out of 19. Level 7 girls trampoline: Score - 24.60; place - 16th out of 28. Level 6 girls double-mini: Score - 54.70; place - 12th out of 15.