Aspen Gymnastics sends six to the state championships after long pandemic hiatus
After two years of inconsistent training and a lack of significant competitions, six Aspen Gymnastics athletes returned to Colorado’s biggest event with the 2022 USA Gymnastics state championships this past weekend in Denver.
The past two state championship meets weren’t able to happen for the Aspen gymnasts because of the coronavirus pandemic. Based out of Aspen’s Red Brick building, there had been various stretches where training had been canceled entirely or forced to be held outside.
“That whole group hung in there through all of this craziness. That’s the most impressive thing about them really,” said Aspen Gymnastics founder and director John Bakken, who coached the athletes at state alongside Drew Barr. “We’ve been rolling under the radar, just staying open over there, and we kind of got back to it.”
Five Level 6 girls represented Aspen Gymnastics at the state championship, with that group finishing 10th overall as a team. The squad was led by Robin Muse, a senior at Roaring Fork High School; she finished sixth individually in vault for the Aspen girls’ highest individual event finish.
“It was probably hardest for her to miss the past two seasons, but she finally got to do it here this season,” Bakken said of Muse. “Usually, we are too small to have a team. We just go as individuals. But there were enough of them … that they went as a team, which was kind of fun.”
The other girls who qualified for state included Aspen High School’s Cerys Hembury and Aspen Middle School’s Lina Bradley, Whitney McManus and Caleah Lutz-Sladdin.
Photos: Aspen Gymnastics at state
Basalt Middle School student Holden Lahey was the sixth state qualifier for Aspen Gymnastics and the lone male athlete. A Level 5 gymnast, he landed just off the main podium twice, finishing fourth in both vault and floor. He was eighth in the all-around.
The state championship ends the winter season for the Aspen gymnasts, who will jump right back into training for the fall schedule.
“We did pretty solid. It’s a small group of kids,” Bakken said. “This particular group of kids hung in there.”
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Katelyn Maley could have led the charge from start to finish, but sometimes waiting to make your move is a better strategy. The Basalt High School junior did just that on Saturday when she won the Class 3A girls 800-meter race at the state meet at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood.