Gymnast improves by leaps and bounds |

Gymnast improves by leaps and bounds

Charles Whisnand column

Jared Grosskopf has has made improvement by leaps and bounds. Literally.

The 12-year-old gymnast, who will be a seventh grader at Carson Valley Middle School and competes for Carson City’s R.A.C. Gymnastics, has already competed on the national level in less than two years since beginning in the sport.

Grosskopf has just completed a season in which he placed second in the vault at several events against top gymnasts from across the country. Competing in class VI, Grosskopf came within a half-tenth of a point of winning the vault at the High Tech Invitational in Sacramento.

“We were sort of annoyed with that, but it was cool,” said R.A.C. director Steffani Walker.

Grosskopf learned how important the landing is at the High Tech event.

“If you stick, you get a one-tenth bonus, you don’t lose any for stepping,” said Grosskopf about the landing.

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Grosskopf’s best score in the vault is 9.35. At the Hilton Invitational in Reno, Grosskopf placed fourth overall and at the Go For It Classic in Las Vegas, Grosskopf took fifth overall, competing in the rings, vault, pommel horse, floor exercise, parallel bars and horizontal bar.

During the season, his overall scores consistently got better in five competitions: 44.50, 46.25, 48.40, 49.60 and 49.80. His 49.80 was good enough to take second at the Silver State Games held in April in Sparks.

“That’s why we like him,” said Walker about the improvement Grosskopf has made.

Grosskopf began gymnastics in March of 2000. He went to a birthday party that was held in a gymnasium and was hooked on the sport. “So I begged my parents to sign up,” Grosskopf said.

Competing in class VII last year, Grosskopf placed first 13 times in three competitions. He is now ready to move up to class V.

His favorite events are the high bar and the rings. “He likes height, danger and speed,” Walker said.

Those characteristics have also helped him in the vault. “I’m just not afraid to fly,” Grosskopf said.

“Fear is a lot of it. If you’re afraid, you’re going to slow down and not get any flight.”

Grosskopf’s weakest event is the pommel horse. “He struggles on pommel horse, but he’ll get over that,” Walker said. “He’s actually gotten over that.”

Grosskopf has set lofty aspirations. “My all-time goal is to be an Olympian,” he said.

As far as earning a college scholarship in gymnastics, Grosskopf said, “That would be great. That’s how I plan to get through college.”

Jim Walker, Steffani’s husband who is the owner of R.A.C. and Grosskopf’s coach, told Grosskopf his parents are paying for his college education now “if you keep working hard.”

“That would be expected,” said Steffani about Grosskopf earning a scholarship.

Grosskopf is also an A student in school. “That’s expected,” Jim said.

As Grosskopf moves up in class, he’s going to have to work harder,” Jim said. “It’s just going to get worse,” Grosskopf said.

“To get good, it takes some talent, but it takes a lot of hard work and he works hard at it,” Jim said. “The schedule’s just going to get harder.”

Jim said he’s now stressing strength with Grosskopf. “He’s getting stronger every day,” Jim said.

“We’ve been working a lot on strength. He’s always had a lot of flexibility. He has a lot more flexibility than most boys.”

Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor.