Laurels hit first qualifier with flying colours
by Randy Pascal
There’s nothing quite like kicking off a new season of competition by sailing through your first meet with flying colours.
The Sudbury Laurels' coaching staff could not have asked for much more as their relatively inexperienced crew returned from the first qualifier
of the year in Orangeville. “As a whole, I think that every one of our level six athletes exceeded expectations,” suggested coach Julie McEwen.
“It was the first provincial meet for the majority of my group, and that can be very nerve-wracking in itself. They did really, really well.” Over and
above the time that has spent perfecting routines on each of the four disciplines, the gymnasts received a little fine-tuning that was specifically
designed to deal with the stress of elite competition.
“We did a lot of mental training, a lot of mental preparation, which really, really helped them,” said McEwen. It would be difficult to dispute the
results, especially with the newcomers. Making her first appearance at a provincial meet, 11 year old Brooklyn Basso earned silver in the all-around
aggregate, largely on the strength of her bars (silver), vault (silver) and beam (bronze) routines.
“I was competing my giants for the first time, and my clear handstands for the first time, and I hit both of them,” noted Basso. “I was pretty excited.”
With second qualifier now less than a month away, the talented young gymnast knows where her focus will lie, even if she received a bit of a helping hand
in identifying the specifics.
“I’m working on floor, on leaps, because that’s where I lost the most points, I find,” she said. “I looked at my points, and my mom took videos, so I
looked at them too. My back knee on my leaps was pretty bent, so I have to work on that.”
Born in Calgary but moving to Sudbury at a very young age, Marin O’Malley did not need a whole lot of convincing to make the jump to provincial
level gymnastics this year. “I like competing,” she stated. “I get really bored when I’m not doing gymnastics. Since I train more now, it’s more
entertaining and more fun.”
Also making the jump easier was the fact that she moved from level four to level six, and with it, enjoyed a lot more flexibility in terms of planning
her routines. “To be honest, level six is actually easier than level five, because you get to choose more skills,” explained the chatty ten year old.
“In level one, two, three, four and five, there’s specific things you have to do. In level six, there’s a couple of specific things, but most of them
are your choice.” Much like Basso, O’Malley lists the bars as her favourite event, something of a rarity among female gymnasts. Of course, she sees her
personal skill-set as differing a little from the norm anyways.
“I’m very strong, because my dad is very strong,” she suggested. “I think that’s where I got it from. When I was little, I used to love to do chin ups
and stuff.” O’Malley placed fifth, overall, in her age/level bracket, garnering a bronze medal on bars and sliding in at fifth in the vault.
Remaining level six highlights included:
Brielle Charlebois - gold on floor, bronze aggregate ("hip hop attitude" on the floor paid dividends
Abigail Dumontelle - gold on vault
Abbygayle Dupuis* - bronze on vault and aggregate
Charlotte Eberlein - gold on vault (score of 9.55 was huge)
Alana Killeen - bronze on floor
Chanelle Lazure* - silver on bars
Madysen Mulligen* - gold on bars (hit every handstand in bar routine)
Chloe Pitura* - silver on vault and aggregate, bronze on floor
Abby Managhan* - 6th on beam
* denotes athletes competing in first ever qualifier
Making the jump to level nine, 15 year old Marisol Toupin unveiled a slew of new skills - shoot release, r-off full dismount on beam and back
1.5 twist on floor - capturing bronze in the latter in the process.
Fifteen year old Rachel Uguccioni (level 8) showcased her new vault, a Tsukahara in a Pike position, earning a bronze medal in the event. Club
veteran Brooklyn Lavallee (level 8 - age 16+) matched that result, featuring a Tsukahara in a tucked position.
Making the jump to level seven, Renée Blais incorporated several additions to her routine, performing her giant on bars, front handspring front
tuck on the floor, and back handspring on the beam. She was rewarded with a silver medal performance on bars, beam and overall aggregate.
Demonstrating substantial improvement in her level seven skills, Savannah Starling-Brisebois walked away with bronze on both the vault and