Caroline Poirier was one of six athletes from Tumblers Gymnastics Centre to qualify for the Eastern Canadian Championships. Photo provided
By Dan Plouffe
They were both all-around champions at the Ontario Artistic Gymnastics Championships, but Jennifer Vo and Taylor Jackle Spriggs' experiences at the April 3-6 meet in Windsor couldn't have been much different.
For Vo, her performance in the Level 8, Age 14+ category was "the best meet I had for the whole year."
"I was just really excited," the sixth-ranked Nepean-Corona athlete says of the moment she found out she'd tied for first place in the overall standings with a score of 37.9. "I didn’t expect first because I’ve never won provincials before. I was really happy and I was really proud of myself."
The Grade 9 Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary School student notes that she often get very nervous before big competitions, but this time, with the help of some deep breathing, "I was actually pretty calm and I performed like I wanted to."
A sense of calm confidence is one aspect Spriggs can indeed relate to. The veteran of many provincial championships feels comfortable in the atmosphere, but coming out as Ontario champ in the national open category didn't impress him nearly as much as it did Vo.
"I actually thought that this competition was a little worse than normal," details Spriggs, who scored 1.2 points higher in his third provincials qualifier with a 78.3 total. "But I still did very well and it turned out in the end."
Spriggs earned first place by a very healthy 4.2 points – a margin of victory the second-year Carleton University commerce student hadn't experienced since his provincials debut in Level 1 many years ago.
Spriggs' lack of satisfaction comes from a desire to take the final step up the podium at the Canadian Championships this year, following fifth- and second-place finishes in national open the past two years.
"I’m certainly working towards the top of the podium this time," highlights the Ottawa Gymnastics Centre athlete who's expecting it may take 80+ points to beat gymnasts from Quebec. "That’s why I think I may need to bump up my difficulty a little bit."
A total of 20 athletes from Spriggs' club landed on the provincial podium, including his younger brother Arryn, who placed third all-around – one spot back of OGC teammate Ben Frosst – in Level 4, Age 14+.
Numerous local gymnastics qualified for the May 10-13 Eastern Canadian Championships in Oshawa and the May 26-31 nationals at Carleton University.
Best-ever meet for Tumblers
With 10 podium finishers, including many at some of the highest levels, the provincials were "the greatest competition Tumblers ever had," says Tumblers Gymnastics Centre women's head coach Alina Florea, saluting coaching partner Lynne Ethier, the club's support and encouragement, and the athletes' parents for their role in the success.
Alexandra Cameron, Maya Rana and Jordan Faig continued their season-long trend of meeting up on the podium, combining for a total of six medals in the Level 8, Age 10-11 class, while two sets of Tumblers produced a feat unique out of all local female gymnasts.
Caroline Poirier and Beth Webster (in Level 9, Age 12-13), and Juliette Chapman and Avery Rosales (in Canadian Pre-Novice Elite, Age 9-10), earned multiple Easterns qualifying positions for their club in the same category.
"I’m really, really happy," signals Poirier, who placed third all-around – one step ahead of Webster in the final qualification spot. "I go to school with Beth, we’ve known each other for so many years – since we were 6 – so we spend a lot of time together and I’m just really happy we can have the experience and I can share it with her."
The strong performances on the first two days of competition set the stage for the youngest Tumblers to excel in their later events.
"It gave me a boost," Chapman details. "When I heard that they did well, I wanted to do as well as them."
Coupled with teammate Rosales' third-place all-around finish and her own second-place result, Chapman says they were "really excited" to earn their trip to Easterns together.
"It helps a lot having a friend with you," she adds. "If you’re really nervous, you can talk to each other, and it calms ourselves down."
Les Sittelles' Fiona Leclair Robertson, with a silver on balance beam, and Olympia's Meghan Heer, with bronze on vault, were the top performers and lone medal winners from their respective clubs.
Heer's performance in the Level 6, Age 15+ category marked the third consecutive year that she captured a provincial championships medal in the vault event.
Other local athletes finishing on the all-around podium included Tumblers' Nicholas Duggan (second place, by just .05 points, in Level 5, Age 12+), OGC's Elizabeth Mckee (third, L5 A11) and Chelsey Louis-Jean (second, L6 A9), and National Capital's Nathanael Teng (second, L3 A10-12) and Sam Zakutney (third, National Junior High-Performance), who was just a few days removed from a trip to Brazil for the Pan American junior gymnastics championships prior to the provincials in Windsor.
LOCAL PROVINCIAL GYMNASTICS MEDALISTS
T-1st AA, gold bars, silver beam
gold vault, silver beam, silver floor
bronze bars, bronze beam
3rd AA, bronze beam, gold floor
Fiona Leclair Robertson
CPN Aspire A8-10
CPN Elite A9-10
2nd AA, silver beam, silver floor
3rd AA, bronze beam, gold floor
3rd AA, silver vault
2nd AA, silver vault, bronze bars, bronze beam
gold bars, bronze beam, gold floor
2nd AA, gold pommel
Arryn Jackle Spriggs
3rd AA, gold p. bars, silver h. bar
2nd AA, silver floor, gold pommel, bronze vault, silver p. bars, silver h. bar
silver floor, gold pommel
Taylor Jackle Spriggs
1st AA, silver floor, gold pommel, gold vault, silver p. bars, bronze h. bar
silver vault, gold p. bars
Nat. Jr. HP
3rd AA, bronze pommel, bronze rings, silver vaultgold p. bars, bronze h. bar
Nat. Sr. HP
gold p. bars
bronze h. bar
2nd AA, silver floor, silver pommel, silver vault, gold p. bars
Sebastien Baranyi Nichols
gold floor, bronze p. bars
Mathieu St. Denis
bronze h. bar
Loic Granzer Corno
gold p. bars