Gymnasts prepping for provincials


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April 16, 2015 8:15 AM

From left, Bianca Kohlman, Devrie Newstead and Jaime Merilees from Explosion Gymnastics will compete in Lethbridge at the 2015 Artistic Gymnastics Provincial Championships from April 17 to 19. Alex Chippin Photo

After exploding onto the regional scene, Jaime Merilees. Bianca Kohlman and Devrie Newstead will represent Explosion Gymnastics and the City of Lloydminster at the 2015 Artistic Gymnastics Provincial Championships in Lethbridge, Albertra from April 17 to 19.

“They’re just great kids. We’re proud of them all and they all look like they’re peaking for Provincials, so we’re hoping that they have a good day and that they have a good experience,” said Bill Tyrwhitt, Explosion Gymnastics Coaching Director.

The three juniors qualified for Lethbridge through strong regional results. The top-12 ranked gymnasts in each age and skill group of the Northeast Alberta Zone make it to the Alberta Provincials.

Merilees, who at age 13 is the eldest of the trio, will compete in Level 3. Kohlman, 11, is entered in Level 4, the most competitive group. Newstead, 10, will compete in Level 2. All three will participate in Vault, Uneven Bars, Beam and Floor, the four Olympic disciplines for Artistic Gymnastics.

Tyrwhitt says the club isn’t putting pressure on the girls to achieve certain results. Instead, the coaches are making sure that the gymnasts are physically and mentally poised to perform up to their capabilities, regardless of what outcome that yields.

“We don’t really have expectations, we want them to do well. We’ve prepared them well and they’ve worked really hard and we think that they’re peaking for Provincials so we expect that they’re going to continue to do well and have a good Provincials.”

Of the trio, Merilees has been the most consistent performer this season. She recently captured top spot in Vault and Floor at the International Cup in Calgary in March. She finished second in the overall standings in Calgary.

“She’s just going at a tremendous pace, learning all kinds of moves. She’s in Level 3, which is a very high level for her age and we’re very proud of her,” Tyrwhitt said. “She’s done very well at competitions all year, always placed in the top-3.”

Meanwhile, Kohlman’s success has perhaps been the most surprising, given that she’s leaped from Level 2 to Level 4 within a year.

“Her first competition of Level 3 (this year), won the gold medal. Second competition, gold medal. And then for the third competition, she asked if she could go up another level. So she skipped two levels this year, which is really rare.”

Newstead, the youngest of the bunch, has been solid and steady all season long. Tyrwhitt described her as a “very stable gymnast, very hard-working,” and added that she has also posted strong results throughout the year.

Over 500 young gymnasts, representing more than 30 clubs from Alberta will compete in Lethbridge in both men’s and women’s Artistic Gymnastics.

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