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Nine Vernon rhythmic gymnasts qualify for nationals

First time in club’s 26-year history that many gymnasts earn spot at Canadian finals
Okanagan Rhythmic Gymnastics Club members Macey Steinkrug of Armstrong (left) and Noelle Brierley of Vernon continue to sparkle for the club. (Contributed)

Vernon’s Okanagan Rhythmic Gymnastics team is shining bright on the provincial and Western Canadian scenes.

At the Elite B.C. Provincials, at Christine Sinclair Centre in Burnaby, athletes from the Okanagan won 28 medals and eagerly advanced to compete at the Western Canadian Championships in Regina last weekend. They continued their domination winning medals in both group (one gold and one silver) and several in individual competition.

In Level 3 (ages eight to 10), the youngest competitor, Macey Steinkrug of Armstrong, eight, came off her B.C. Games high where she won three medals and surprised the field winning silver in free, ball and all around. Marley Mueller of Lake Country struck gold in clubs and finished fourth overall while Aiyana Heyde of Lumby came sixth overall.

The team’s Level 4s were Kaylee Stinn (20th), Julianne Derochie (23rd) and Olivia Sexton (26th).

In Level 5 (ages 12-14), Vernon’s Kaylee Gauthier won gold with her ball and finished eighth overall. Chelsea Kazimer was 14th and Sophia Sexton 15th.

Level 6 (ages 15+) saw Alisa Vedrova win gold in ball, silver in clubs and bronze overall.

Nora McCoubrey, the club’s only national level novice (ages 10-12), finished ninth overall, qualifying in the top-10 to advance to her first Canadian Nationals which will take place at Pan Am Centre in Toronto mid-May.

In the junior category the club had three medallists. First year junior Leila Girard won gold in hoop with her dynamic artistry and aggressive style.

Clara Cox won bronze in hoop with her dramatic and technical routine, while Anya Massa won a bronze in her musical and captivating ball routine. All three earned births to the Nationals and they will join the club’s National Team pool star Noelle Brierley (BC Junior HP champion), who has automatic entry due to her High Performance status.

Pippa Hardy (14th) and Sarah Popowich (19th), both first year National juniors, preformed well.

The senior category was fiercely competitive and offered a tight fight with one of the most riveting competitions in years. The Okanagan’s presence was fierce as the local team earned four of the top-10 senior places and will advance to Nationals.

Halle Moger won a gold and two silver, Madeline Sellars won bronze in clubs. They will be joined by two first-year seniors, Camille Hardy (eighth all around) and Mishra Cameron (ninth all around).

Head coach, Olympian Camille Martens, was impressed with the team and their accomplishments.

“Seeing these athletes attack challenges and rise in the post-COIVD aftermath has been inspiring,” she said. “They are an exceptional group of brave young women.”

It is the first time since the club was founded in 1997 that the team will send nine athletes to compete at the Nationals.

READ MORE: Elite Canada rhythmic gymnastics event features six Vernon athletes

READ MORE: PHOTOS: Gymnastics showcase hearts at Vernon event

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