Halfway through the season something clicked.
Steven Stanley, 14, said it just happened.
A full rotation around the high bars is a daunting skill, seemingly miles above the ground.
Not for the weak of heart.
But after years of training and strength building, physical became mental. And Stanley watched himself as he rounded that bar forward and backward on the same day.
One day, he couldn’t.
The next day he could.
“It really improved my score,” he said, a huge smile lifting the corners of his face.
Stanely pulled off a 10.1 for first place at the Mac Open Gymnastics Meet in February on his way to an all-around seventh-place finish.
He took first on bars in the meet previously as well.
Sixteen-year-old Nick Keilman has also been on a tear.
The Dalles High Junior took second all-around at the Multnomah Athletic Club Open (MAC) with a score of 59.7.
He is showing huge promise for state with scores that are running top three in five of the boys six events.
At Mac, he took first on parallel bars, second on high bars, second on vault, second on rings and third on floor.
Keilman said he is shooting for an 11 of a possible 12.2 points on parallel bars at state.
“It’s going way better than last year,” he said. “I want a to be on the podium for all around at state’.”
At level 5, Alexander Lee-Valkov and Milo Huntington are also preparing.
The 2018 Men’s State Championships will be held in Beaverton on Saturday and Sunday.
“I want to get my highest all-around and make it to regionals,” Stanley said. The boys team is coached by Peggy Casady.
Riverside’s girls compulsory team – levels 3 through 5- are also off to a fast start this spring with a strong showing at the Mac Open.
“I like the feel of when you get a new skill,” said 10-year-old Finley Jenkinson, level 5. “It feels pretty good.”
She took first on bars at the meet and her teammates followed suit on several different events.
At level 3, the team took second place, as Violet Young led the charge with a first-place all-around score of 37.425, which was built on ascending the podium three times to bag top position on vault, bars and floor.
Teammate Maddie Tierney also pumped up the team score with a first-place on beam.
Ayla Carpenter stuck a second-place vault.
Emma Wolf, Alecia Barragan and Evangeline Goldring also chipped in with third place finishes in bars, beam and vault, respectively.
Level 4’s Ellie Rinella, 13, had a huge comeback after a foot -injury last season.
“I had the highest bars score out of the whole meet,” she said excitedly. “I like the strength and agility you have to have and having your teammates cheer you on.”
Sammy Evans, 9, said she was “staying tight and hitting the spring board hard” when she took a first on vault at MAC. “Sometimes I can stick it.”
Taylor Cummins, 10, captured first on bars and Victoria Lee-Valkov balanced her way to a second on beam.
“Everyone qualified for state, so we are doing pretty good,” said Rinella. It was their first meet.
The compulsory season finishes with a state meet in late April.
Riverside Gymnastics is a nonprofit organization with recreational and competitive programs for boys and girls.
For more information on available programs, access www.riverside-gym.org or call 541-993-8625 or visit the gym, which is located at 2221 River Road in The Dalles.