The Gardnerville Tumbleweeds competitive gymnastics team will put the finishing touches on its season this weekend as two athletes compete in the USA Gymnasitcs Region 1 Championships in Reno.
In a year that saw the team move into a new 20,000-square-foot facility and produce some its highest scores in its young four-year history, the regional championships mark the icing on the cake.
"Tumbleweeds went from 'the little gym that could' to true contenders this year," Tumbleweeds boys' coach Tony Parodi said. "Words don't explain the progression the kids have made. The new building was a big part of that. It got all the kids very excited and their skills really improved."
The Tumbleweeds level 5 boys' team took second place at the Nevada state boys' championships in Las Vegas two weeks ago while Malik DePasquale won an all-around level 5 state championship in his age group.
DePasquale also took gold medals in the floor exercise, pommel horse, rings, vault and parallel bars and took a silver medal in the high bar.
Fellow level 5 gymnast Mason Parodi took a bronze medal in the all-around and won a gold medal in the vault with his second 9.9 score of the year.
Both athletes will compete in the regional championships this weekend at the Peppermill Resort Casino Tuscany Ballroom. DePasquale goes at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Parodi will compete at 4:20p.m. Sunday.
Those weren't the only Tumbleweeds athletes to bring home the hardware from the state championships, however.
Keaton Peters was a gold medalist in the level 4 pommel horse, Cole Petrosky won a gold in the parallel bars, a silver on the pommel, a bronze on the rings and took fourth in his age group in the all-around. Zennon Chatwin was a silver medalist on the parallel bars and Branden Basche won a bronze on the high bar.
On the girls' team, Casey Connolly won a pair of gold medals, took a silver in the all-around and posted the highest girls score for the Tumbleweeds with a 9.550 on the uneven bars. Baylee Robinson and Kailey Jacobseon each took a bronze medal in the floor exercise.
The Tumbleweeds also had a number of other strong performances at the state championships, led by Maizey Parodi who competed in two events despite rolling her ankle just before making the trip to Las Vegas.
"We thought it was broken originally," Tumbleweeds girls' coach Shamra Petrosky said. "She gritted it out and still had one of her highest scores of the year on the bars. We were really proud of her."
The state championships brought up the scores for the entire Tumbleweeds' roster as Mowgli McKeon and Skyler Bledsoe of the boys' team and Leah Frankiewich, Talyn Jackson, Aryana Petrosky, Cori Craig, Maya Krug, Katarina Vondruska and Emma Morgan all had improvements on the previous bests.
"Everyone did really well," Petrosky said. "It's amazing how well the team has done for only competing these last four years against gyms that have been around a long time.
"We held our own all season. When you look at it, how far ahead we are considering how new and green we are, to be right in there is amazing."
DePasquale and Parodi will be competing against up to 50 athletes in each of the age groups from Arizona, Hawaii, California and Nevada for a qualifying spot in the Junior Olympic Nationals, but the rest of the Tumbleweeds have already started looking toward next year.
"They're all stoked because they can start working on new routines and taking more risks," Petrosky said. "A lot of the kids are moving up a level, so they'll get to start working on some more elements and disciplines. It'll be great."
Anyone interested in getting involved with the Tumbleweeds competitive team can visit www.tumbleweedsforkids.com or call 782-4496.
Cost: $15 for adults, $7 for children, 5 and under free
Who: Malik DePasquale and Mason Parodi will be among 700 gymnasts competing from from four states. DePasquale competes at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Parody competes at 4:20 p.m. Sunday.
n Joey Crandall can be reached at email@example.com or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.