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Silver City club hosts top area gymnasts

Todd Hartley

Now in its fifth year at the Red Brick Recreation Center in Aspen, Silver City Gymnastics hosted its first event of 2000 last weekend with the Winter Invitational.

The meet, a three-way affair with the local team, Grand Junction Gymnastics and Glenwood Springs Gymnastics, featured some of the Western Slope’s best high-level (7-10) gymnasts and a strong showing by the Silver City athletes despite a rash of injuries that limited some girls’ participation.

Jenna Collin led the way for the Aspen contingent, finishing first in the level 8 all-around competition Friday night, but it was teammate Hannah Lujan’s time to shine.

Lujan qualified for the state level 8 gymnastics meet with her score of 33.275 (32 or higher qualifies for level 8) and finished just behind Collin (33.7) in the standings. Collin qualified for the state meet at an event earlier this winter.

“Hannah did a great job making it to state,” said Silver City coach and director John Bakken, who has seen his program grow from six competitive gymnasts to 20, with 15 more in the pre-team program. “She put together a very balanced meet.”

Lujan won the vault with an 8.45 score, took second in balance beam and finished third in both uneven bars and floor exercise to card her qualifying score. Collin, in addition to the all-around win, finished first in uneven bars.

Silver City’s Yury Nakagawa picked up the other two level 8 event wins, balance beam and floor exercise, with scores of 8.6 and 9.05, respectively. She also finished third in vault and would likely have qualified for the state meet as well had she competed in all four disciplines.

“Yury won two events,” said Bakken. “If we could get her going on the bars, she’d be off to state too.”

Aspen’s Emily Teague, another level 8 and last year’s level 7 state champion, was hampered by a broken bone in the top of her foot and only competed in uneven bars, but did well enough to finish fourth. Silver City’s final level 8 gymnast, Maggie Hoffman, sat out the meet with an ankle injury.

At level 9, Ashley Rahm of Grand Junction Gymnastics picked up the win in all four disciplines and the all-around to overshadow a fine day by the members of the Glenwood Springs Gymnastics team. Maddi Bernhardt of the Glenwood Springs club took second in both balance beam and floor exercise, and teammate Lindsey Kramer finished second in the uneven bars.

At level 10, Glenwood’s Michelle Whiddon was the only competitor due to the absence of Silver City’s Rose Kiernan, one of the best gymnasts in the state. Kiernan was slated to compete in at least some of the events, but had to withdraw due to injury.

On the gymnsatics rating scale, the only level higher than 10 is elite, of which there is only one gymnast in Colorado. Kiernan, a former level 8 state champ, is among the best level 10s in the state and is being recruited by Division I college programs such as Arizona and Utah State. In addition, she has advanced past the state meet the last two years to compete in the regionals against top gymnasts from as far away as Texas.

“It’s a tough region,” said Bakken. “Colorado has one elite gymnast. By comparison, Texas has over 40.”

On Saturday, the level 7s took center stage, meaning that Kate Raczak was the only representative from the Silver City team. But Raczak did the local program proud by putting together a balanced performance to finish second in the all-around. Raczak, who had already qualified for the state meet, took the gold in uneven bars with a 9.05 and finished second on floor exercise and third in vault and balance beam to take silver in the all-around with a 34.65 score.

Amanda Buller of Grand Junction was tops in level 7 with a score of 35.35 after winning both the vault and the floor exercise. Grand Junction’s Danielle Rose scored the win in balance beam.

In the team standings, Grand Junction picked up the win, Silver City finished second, and Glenwood Springs was third.


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