Kyle Casson had a good showing at the USA Gymnastics Men’s Junior Olympic National Championships from May 3 to 5 in Portland, Ore, and the experience motivated him to do well in more than just gymnastics.
Casson, a freshman at Woodstock, placed third in the floor exercise and sixth in the vault in the all-around competition in the 14-year-old age group. He was 23rd in the finals of the all-around.
Casson qualified for the finals with a 12th-place finish in the all-around with a score of 74.550 in the qualifying round.
Even though the routine of the competition was familiar, Casson said the magnitude of the meet had an impact on him.
“Obviously, it felt different because it was such a big meet,” Casson said. “It was nerve racking because you’re competing against the top qualifiers.”
Finishing third in the floor exercise also has taken some time to get used to. Even a week later Casson was amazed by his finish.
“It’s weird to think I’m third in the nation on floor,” Casson said. “It makes me feel like I accomplished something, but it’s a weird thing to think about.”
After he completed his floor routine, Casson knew he had a good performance but didn’t know how it would stack up against the other competitors. He had to wait for the final results because watching other competitors is unsettling to him.
“I don’t really like watching other people compete. It stresses me out,” Casson said.
Nationals also made Casson want to continue to do well in school. He knows his busy practice schedule and playing football for Woodstock in the fall doesn’t provide a whole lot of time for studying.
“After I was done it made me want to try harder in gymnastics and try harder in school,” Casson said. “It’s hard keeping your grades up.”
Next up for Casson is competing at a higher level next season. That will require learning some harder moves and routines, but he expects the shift to be a smooth one.
“During the summer, I’ll transition into the Level 10 moves,” Casson said. “I’m ready. I feel good.”
Basketball for Pediatric Cancer: The Third Annual Sean Toedman Memorial 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital will be June 23 at Lions Park in East Dundee.
David Schults started the event that was named after his wife’s cousin, who died of brain cancer at age 12.
The tournament is open to anyone 18 and older, and organizers hope to have women’s, men’s championship and men’s rec divisions. Entry fees are $125 a team, and registration forms must be completed by June 16.
During the event, concessions will be available for purchase. There will also be raffles for golf outings, Chicago sporting events, restaurant gift cards and gift baskets. Prizes will be awarded for the top three teams in each division.
For information about sponsorship or playing in the tournament, contact Schultz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Rob Smith is a sports writer for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at email@example.com.