Kyle Casson turned a passion for climbing on things at a young age into a skill that could land him a college scholarship.
At the Region 5 Men’s Gymnastics Championship on April 6 and 7 in St Charles, Casson placed 14th in the Level 9 all-around with a 74.550. He also qualified for the USA Gymnastics Men’s Junior Olympic National Championships on April 30 to May 5 in Portland, Ore.
Casson, a freshman at Woodstock, started in tumbling classes at a young age. That’s where his natural gymnastics skills started to kick in.
“When I was 3, my father put me into a tumbling class because I was always climbing on stuff at home,” Casson said. “He put me in a [gymnastics] class because I did a back flip without any training.”
Although gymnastics is a common sport for area girls, the boys side doesn’t enjoy as much popularity.
“It was harder when I was younger,” Casson said. “[My friends] didn’t realize how hard it was.”
Casson qualified for the regional meet at the state meet March 22 to 24 at Buffalo Grove. He placed 10th in the all-around and competed with the St. Charles Gymnastics Academy, which won the team competition.
His top performance at regionals was in the vault, where he finished seventh with a 12.350. Casson was happy with qualifying for nationals but not completely satisfied.
“I did better than I thought I would do, but I could do better than that,” Casson said. “The individual events I did bad, but once I saw my overall score I was pretty happy with that.”
Even as an experienced competitor, Casson said the state and regional meets were intense.
“It’s always nerve racking, especially these two, because they were really big,” Casson said. “I’m in a routine, but it’s still stressful.”
Having his team members competing alongside him made things easier.
“We all had each other if anything bad happened,” Casson said. “You’re there to support each other.”
Traveling to St. Charles and practice takes about 27 hours out of Casson’s week. Mixing in school and friends doesn’t leave much time for anything else, but he tries to make time for football.
“I told all my coaches gymnastics comes first,” Casson said. “That’s also a really big commitment.”
Casson likens his gymnastics commitment to having a job.
“There’s some days I don’t want to be there at all,” Casson said. “And some days I look forward to being in the gym.”
For the future, Casson’s goals are clear.
“I want to get a scholarship into a top-10 college,” he said.
• Rob Smith is a sports writer for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at email@example.com