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Top Contenders dominate

The Top Contenders Gymnastics Academy's boys and girls teams placed first in the Amateur Athletic Union National Championships.

The 16-member girls squad captured 31 gold medals, 10 silver and 2 bronze in the June 26-29 competition in Des Moines, Iowa. The boys won 20 gold, 17 silver and 12 bronze.

The teams are comprised primarily of gymnasts from Hernando and Pasco counties.

With their showing, the boys earned the right to compete in the Junior Olympics Age Level Championships on July 28 in Detroit for the second straight year.

Sean Krause, 6, the Top Contenders' youngest athlete, finished first, second and third in all six of his Class 7 events to receive an all-around silver medal. First-year competitor James Bruce took first, second and third for silver in the division, which is for 10-year-olds.

Krause's brother, Erik, was third all-around in Class 6, for athletes 8. Anthony Carlucci placed first among 10-year-olds. Christopher Hammelman was eighth.

In Class 5, gymnasts 10-11, brothers Alex and Kyle Horvath captured gold and bronze, respectively, in the all-around category and placed first, second or third in each of their events.

Shannon Alfonso took second all-around and first and second in each of his events in the Class 5 division for 12-year-olds. Dustin Funderberg, the team leader at age 14, was first all-around.

Austin Sievers missed the meet after he was invited to attend a USAG Training Camp the same weekend as the AAU event. He was the only boy from Hernando or Pasco county to qualify. Nevertheless, Sievers will join his teammates in the Junior Olympics based on his AAU state performance.

In girls Level 2 action, Teresina Lemons' score of 38.475 was the highest at any level or age group. She was first in every event, as well as the all-around competition.

Sabine Elam recorded the second-highest mark (37.775) on the Level 2 team. Jacqueline Jacobs placed first all-around in the division for 5-year-olds with a score of 37.70.

In their first year of competition, twins Moira and Meghan Goode, 12, received first or second in each of their events and were first and second, respectively, all-around. Moira had the highest individual mark, 9.85 on vault.

Gina Stockton produced her first 9, scoring 9.05 on beam, en route to a Level 2 championship. Tiffany Lindiakos, 8, scored 37.20 to take second in her division.

In Level 3, Samantha Roetman, 9, took first in each event and had the highest all-around score, 38.25. Jennifer Alred posted a 34.475 all-around.

In the Modified Optional competition, Tiffany Dawson, 7, scored 36.175 to place first all-around among 8-year-olds. She was first on floor and bars and third on beam and vault.

Kristi Strazzullo, 10, produced a 9.35 on bars and floor to claim fourth in both events. Her all-around score of 35.75 was good enough for sixth in the nation.