Sure, there were event winners at the 2023 NOSSA Gymnastics Championships hosted last week at the GymZone facility in New Sudbury.
Individually, twenty-four first place medals were awarded, one for each of the four disciplines in each of the six different levels being contested - and that doesn't include the various team awards.
Despite all of this, one could not help but get the sense that the true champion of the day would lie in the simple ability to compete in a sport that some 80 or so competitors representing 13 different schools truly enjoy.
"Just being able to get out there and do it again, it just feels good," said 17 year old senior Myah Ferguson, back in the gym after stepping away some six years ago, following an injury.
"It's my senior year in high-school, my last year and I figured I might as well do it."
That sentiment registered big time with meet convenor Heather Theijsmeijer, program coordinator of Mathematics (grade 7-12) and the gymnastics coach at Manitoulin Secondary School.
"I am most encouraged about the number of schools and the number of athletes that we have competing this year," said the former gymnast who competed in her youth, primarily in St Catharines.
"I am encouraged by the interest that is still there - and encouraged by the number of new coaches that are out this year," said Teijsmeijer. "That will build capacity in our sport."
Ironically, Ferguson and her family were originally residing on Manitoulin Island as well, moving to Sudbury about ten years ago, at which time the now senior at Lasalle Secondary School started into gymnastics.
A few years away, however, would have her feeling somewhat more comfortable on some disciplines moreso than others. "My favourite is floor," suggested Ferguson. "It's my best event - and it's easier to do skills on the floor with the muscle memory."
"The skills are a bit trickier with the balance beam and other stuff."
Though she had really only received some fairly fundamental exposure to the basics as a 10 or 11 year-old, Madison Crawford (grade 10 - St Charles College) also experienced some of the same feelings as Ferguson.
"It's been at least four or give years; there's a few things that came back and a couple that didn't," said Crawford with a smile. "I was a little rusty, but it was nice to get back into it."
And while nerves certainly were a factor as well, Crawford acknowledge that there is something special about the atmosphere at the high-school gymnastics' competitions that isn't always seen at other sporting events.
"Even if you are not from that school, ou still want to cheer on the other athletes and encourage them," she said. That alone helped push her through the vault, a discipline that she had not attempted in her early involvement with gymnastics.
"I really enjoyed that experience," said Crawford. "You want to give it a really good run in; give it as much power as you can and then stay tight off the board."
Crawford was competing in Level 1, as we all three of the MSS athletes that Theijsmeijer had accompanied to the NOSSA showcase. "They have all done amazing," said the long-time teacher who move north to "get out of the southern Ontario rat race" several years ago.
"They work hard and they challenge themselves - and they take feedback so well. I am super encouraged by their enthusiasm and their commitment to the sport - and how well they performed."
Following are all of the winners from each of the different categories:Level 1
Vault - Maren Kasunich (MSS) - 9.70
Bars - Minori Fukushiro (SCC) - 9.25
Beam - Cameron O'Daiskey (BAC) - 9.60
Floor - Sarah Garbutt (CND) - 9.45
Vault - Norah Morrissey (LCS) - 9.60
Bars - Kyana Kingsley (HOR) - 9.40
Beam - Tatum Belanger (LIV) - 9.25
Floor - Liz Ugguccioni (LCS) - 9.20
Vault - Georgia Wilson (CFD) - 9.50
Bars - Katie Fosten (MMT) - 9.65
Beam - Amélie Thornton (CND) - 9.10
Floor - Sienna Ngouabe (CND) - 9.40
Vault - Ella Caissie (BAC) - 9.60
Bars - Alexia Ferguson (LCS) - 8.625
Beam - Erin Coles (LOE) - 9.25
Floor - Jersey McMahon (BAC) - 9.45
Vault - Jordyn Vildis (LIV) - 9.50
Bars - Lea Berardi (STB) - 9.25
Beam - Ella O'Shaughenessy (STB) - 9.50
Floor - Emilie Lefebvre (LAS) - 8.80
Vault - Alana Killeen (LAS) - 9.85
Bars - Kiana Lampinen (LCS) - 9.40
Beam - Abby Managhan (LCS) - 9.50
Floor - Alana Killeen (LAS) - 9.40