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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
The graduating group gives way to incoming talent
by Randy Pascal

Provincial highlights need not solely come in the form of medal performances.

Even before competition began last month in Windsor, coach Terra Davidson and the Sudbury Laurels women's artistic team already had reason to rejoice. In sending no less than a dozen athletes through by way of the three qualifiers attended throughout the 2017-2018 campaign, the locals had already taken a giant leap forward.

That said, the 2018 Ontario Championships might well be remembered, from a local perspective, for their participants at both ends of the spectrum.

In just her second year of gymnastics training, 13 year old Abby Dupuis (Level 6) earned a specialty award in “Mastery of Floor Choreography”. “That routine I did at provincials felt like one of my better routines,” conceded the grade 8 student at Ecole Publique de la Découverte in Val Caron.

“I felt confident and everything kind of went well. In some of my routines, my back leg will be bent, but in that routine, it wasn't – and my tumbling was a lot better than it usually is.” A relatively late entry into the world of competitive gymnastics, Dupuis kind of stumbled across her new-found passion.

“I saw some videos on You Tube and they were doing cool flips and stuff, and I decided I wanted to learn that,” she said. “I started teaching myself in my backyard, but then I got my mom to put me in some classes.”

As for the skill-set that allowed the talkative teen to take to gymnastics so quickly, Dupuis can only hazard a guess. “I'm pretty flexible and I have strong legs,” she noted. “My upper body isn't the strongest. It's kind of weird – my legs are a lot stronger than my arms are. It really helps with leaps and stuff.”

Also making her first appearance at provincials, 11 year old Brooklyn Basso comes with a little fanfare, having already caught the attention of locals prior to testing herself against the top 32 in Ontario this April.

The grade 6 student at Northeastern Elementary School would not disapoint.

“I placed seventh on bars and I was really proud of that,” Basso explained. “My dismount went well, my giant fly-away. I tend to travel too much and don't end up sticking it.” Not the case this time around, as the local youngster also received a specialty award in “Fly Sky High” on bars.

“You want to let go once you see your toes, and that will help you land right in the middle,” she said. “You'll get the right height and the right length, so you'll land it.” With the balance of the 2017-2018 season closed off with interclub competitions, Basso will soon unveil the routines that will allow her to make the jump to Level 7 in the fall.

Enjoying memorable send offs from their final provincial competition, both Kayla Folz (Level 10 – age 15+) and Brooklyn Lavallee (Level 8 – Age 16+) did themselves proud. Despite an injury riddled season, Folz recorded a career best score of 9.20 on bars, while Lavallee placed 10th in both the vault and floor.

“I went into provincials knowing that this was going to be one of my last meets, so I had set all of my goals for that competition, and I feel like I accomplished them all,” said Folz. “I can leave the sport happy with what I've done. I've never scored in the nines on bars, and to do it at provincials was such a huge accomplishment. I've trained so hard to get that to where I was.”

Easily the most decorated gymnast from Sudbury in the past two decades or more, the soon-to-be graduate of St Charles College has gradually come to grips with the stark reality that all athletes must face at some point in their lives.

“We're getting to the point now where even though my heart is still in it, and my head is still in it, I just can't take much more physically of the sport. It's been really tough, a lot of tears, trying to accept it. But I know my time has come and I've accomplished so much, so I'm very happy with what I have done.”

Fourth place ribbons were also secured by both Charlotte Eberlein and Brielle Charlebois, both on the vault, while the balance of the Sudbury Laurels lineup at provincials included Madysen Mulligan, Chanelle Lazure, Chloe Pitura, Renée Blais, Marisol Toupin and Rachel Uguccioni.

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