Aspen Gymnastics soaring |

Aspen Gymnastics soaring

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Morgan Leasure of the Aspen Gymnastics Team works on the balance beam under the watchful eye of coach John Bakkan.
Courtesy photo |

Aspen Gymnastics is soaring — above and beyond.

The gymnasts from the region, who toil in practice after practice at the Red Brick Building in Aspen, are vaulting up into state and regional competitions as well as the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic Program.

Fresh from collecting honors in Denver, Loveland and Texas, the Aspen Gymnastics Team will demonstrate the latest routines in a special demonstration at 6 p.m. May 16 at the Red Brick gymnasium. The gymnastics demonstration is free and open to the public.

“Our program, in general, has grown from 30 students back in 1994 to over 350 students currently enrolled,” said longtime Aspen Gymnastics director John Bakken.

He said the upper-level competitiors at Aspen Gymnastics had a very strong season this year.

“All six upper level Aspen Team members qualified to the state championships at the respective levels,” Bakken said of the competitive group.

Weekly workouts

He said the team members train 15 to 18 hours each week, depending on their upcoming event schedules.

Morgan Leasure, age 13, is competing in her first season as a Level 9 (the second-highest competition level in the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic program).

Bakken said Leasure placed 15th in the all-around, 10th on beam and 12th on floor exercise in the junior divison at the Level 9 state championships in March.

Big D

“Morgan’s state meet all-around score qualified her to attend the regional championships, held April 15 in Dallas, Texas,” Bakken said. “She competed against some of the top Level 9 gymnasts in the nation. Morgan had an outstanding season in her first year as a Level 9, and hopes to qualify through to the national championships next season.”

Madison Cheo compete in her second season as a Level 8 gymnast.

The 15-year-old placed seventh in all-around, sixth on vault and sixth on beam in the senior division at the Level 8 state championships.

“At state, Madi qualified for the regional championships held in Loveland,” Bakken said. “At regionals, she had her best meet of the season.”

Best Colorado score

He said Cheo posted the highest all-around score of any Colorado gymnast in her division, placing 12th in the all-around.

“Madison hopes to compete as a Level 9 (gymnast) next season,” Bakken said.

He also had high praise for 14-year-old Dominique Rosa.

“She had an outstanding season competing in the Level 7 senior division,” Bakken said.

“Dominique stood on the podium twice at the state championships, placing second on both floor and vault,” the Aspen Gymnastics director said. “Dominique also qualified to the Level 7 regional championships held in Galveston, Texas, on April 25.”

Rosa made it to the podium in Texas, placing second in the floor exercise.

She also placed fourth in the vault en route to an impressive sixth-place finish in the all-around competiton, Bakken said.

“Dominique hopes to compete as a Level 8 next season,” he said.

First-year optionals

Bakken said a pair of first-year optional-level gymnasts represented Aspen Gymnastics at Level 6 this season.

He said Katarina Goralka (age 14) and Eliette Rutledge (16) qualified for the Level 6 state championships in Denver.

“At state, Katarina placed fourth on bars and 18th in the all-around in the junior division,” Bakken said.

Competing in the senior division, Rutledge placed 14th on bars and 20th in all-around.

Bakken encouraged the public to attend the May 16 demonstration at the Red Brick gym.

The free program will begin at 6 p.m.

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