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Local gymnasts rack up provincial prizes
Created On: May 8, 2017
Jenna Lalonde. Photo: Dan Plouffe

By Phi Trinh

Ottawa Gymnastics Centre celebrated a big weekend at the Ontario Men’s and Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Championships Apr. 6-9 in Mississauga, with five men and four women landing on the all-around provincial podium.

That included a trio of Ontario all-around champs: Elizabeth McKee (in the women’s Level 7, Age 15 competition), Emma Gray (in L6 A14) and Riley Gonzalez (men’s L2 A10-11).

OGC’s Jenna Lalonde won 3 of 4 apparatuses in her pre-novice aspire 2 category and finished 3rd overall. Lalonde and McKee earned the chance to represent Team Ontario at the May 5-7 Eastern Canadian Championships in Nova Scotia, along with Micky Geller, Max Parker, Justin Khalil, Philopateer Faltas, and Jaiman Lawrence on the men’s side.

“I had a training camp with (my new teammates) last week,” reports McKee. “They were all really good and we had a lot of fun.”

Gonzalez’ victory came in his very first year of competing, much to the delight of OGC men’s coach Oleksandr Zavadych.

“He showed good potential,” Medvedevs notes. “He did very clean routines with good technique and basis.”

Farther west, Kanata GymnoSphere took great pride in sending a 7-athlete contingent to provincials in just their second year of operation.

“The program has come a long way,” signals GymnoSphere coach Lauren Mooney, who was impressed to see that her athletes weren’t overwhelmed by the big stage. “Because they’re so well-trained, going to competition is literally like doing one routine instead of 10 that day.”

Angelina Polegato earned the best all-around result out of the Kanata gang, taking home bronze in L6 A9. Polegato travels over an hour each way from her home near Iroquois/Morrisburg to practice at GymnoSphere. She has to miss a bit of school to arrive in time for 4:30 p.m. training.

“I don’t have my gym suit on or my hair done, so I actually get changed in the car,” highlights Polegato. “And I have to keep my seatbelt on, so that’s even more challenging.”

Thanks to her giant leap up from 19th place last year in L9 A10-12, Kanata’s Mackenzie Capretta will represent Team Ontario for L10 at the Easterns.

“I’m excited,” underlines Capretta, who needed to learn a lot of new skills in a short period of time to move up to L10. “It takes a lot of focus and dedication. Hard work and wanting to do it – you need that motivation.”

Granted an injury exemption from qualification earlier this season, Tumblers’ Juliette Chapman will compete in the junior high-performance category at the May 23-28 Canadian Gymnastics Championships in Montreal. Chapman got a tune-up in at provincials, winning her category’s bars, beam and floor event, while scratching vault.

Zakutney lands rookie award

Ottawa native Sam Zakutney the Big Ten Conference’s Freshman of the Year award in his rookie gymnastics season with the Penn State Nittany Lions of the NCAA. The 18-year-old captured nine titles and finished on the podium 21 times in conference duel meets and went on to finish 15th all-around at the Apr. 21-22 NCAA Championships in West Point, NY.

—with files from Dan Plouffe

Local Ontario Gymnastics Championships All-Around Medallists

Women’s Artistic

Angelina Polegato
Kanata GymnoSphere
Level 6 Age 9 bronze

Emma Gray
L6 A14 gold

Elizabeth Mckee
L7 A15 gold

Madisson Kelleher-Radey
L7 A16+ bronze

Jenna Lalonde
Pre-Novice Aspire 2 A11

Men’s Artistic

Joey Gaudreau
L1 A10-11 bronze

Riley Gonzalez
L2 A10-11 gold

Max Parker
L3 A12-13 silver

Nick Yankowich
L3 A14-17 bronze

Philopateer Faltas
L5 A13-15 silver

Eric Gauthier
National Open silver

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