A girls team from the Gemini School of Gymnastics in Oldsmar is at its third Colorado Classic in Fort Collins, Colo., this weekend. The first year, the team finished fourth; last year, they were second. This year, Rocky Strassberg, Gemini's director and coach, hopes to move upward again.
"We have the strength to win, but we also have some injuries," said Strassberg. "Even with some mistakes, though, we should do well."
Members of the team include Level 10 gymnasts Jill Lindemuth and Jayne Feliciano, Jenny Wentzel at Level 9 and Level 8 gymnasts Andrea Mazur and Gina Wiechmann.
"Going to Colorado is like a reward for a year of hard work," added Strassberg. "We always try to find meets equal to our level of competition and in enjoyable locations.
"That way the girls not only get the experience of competing and traveling, but also a little flavor for a different part of the country they might not otherwise see."
It's the third trip to Colorado for Wentzel, 16, who is coming back from a back injury.
"I'm a little bit shaky (about my performance) since I've been off," said Wentzel, a junior at Chamberlain High School in Tampa. "I haven't been in a meet in two months and I just started back about 2 weeks ago. I've lost some skills and confidence."
When healthy, Wentzel considers her strongest event floor exercise due to her strength in tumbling.
"I hope to do good, clean routines," said Wentzel. "I'm a junior, so this is my scholarship year. I'd like to do the best I can do."
Last year, 17 teams from various states competed. This year, all teams competed Friday with only the top eight teams continuing competition today. Regardless of the outcome, Gemini's gymnasts will stay a couple of extra days to enjoy the mountains and snow skiing.
Last year, Lindemuth, 14, scored the highest all-around score among the Gemini team members. Lindemuth trains five days a week and puts in seven hours of training three times a week. For more than a year, Lindemuth has been home-schooled to allow her more time to train.
"Besides gymnastics, I take ballet and jazz," said Lindemuth. "Dance has really helped with my flexibility, and I can see it especially in my compulsory floor exercise routines."
It's also the second trip to Colorado for Feliciano, Wiechmann and Mazur. Feliciano went two years ago but was unable to go last year due to an injury.
Girls Gasparalla gymnastics: The LaFleur's Gymnastics Club in St. Petersburg won Level 5 and 7 team competition and was third overall in this month's Gasparilla Meet in Tampa. The Apollo School of Gymnastics in Clearwater was first in Level 4, second in Level 5 and third in Level 7 optional to finish second overall. Gemini was fifth.
All-around winners from LaFleur's of St. Petersburg were Amy Hagan (Level 5, 9-and-under), Kristin Bender (Level 7, 9-11) and Ashley Walton (Level 7, 12-14). From Apollo were Jessica Freilich (Level 4, 8-and-under), Helen Peacock (Level 4, 11-and-older) and Missy Benton (Level 5, 8-and-under). Jennifer Keenan from the Medalist School of Gymnastics in St. Petersburg was first all-around in Level 8, 9-11.
Girls Dynamo gymnastics: Level 9 gymnasts from LaFleur's of Largo competed earlier this month in the Dynamo Classic in Oklahoma City. Top all-around performances were awarded to Kristen Dreger (third in 9-11 year old division), Shanna Wides (seventh in 15-and-older) and Angie Bowman (ninth in 15-and-older).
Boys gymnastics: The Apollo School of Gymnastics Class IV boys team was third in a qualifying meet held in Tampa last weekend. Leading Apollo was Devin Ryan who placed fourth all-around in the 10-12 year old division. Kevin Page was twelfth all-around, as was Chase Brendle in Class V, 7-9.
Apollo's Chris Jones was sixth all-around and Brian Finnegan was seventh in Class III compulsory in Atlanta's Peachtree Classic this month. Jones competed in the 13-15 year old division and Finnegan was in the 10-12.