Representing the future of men’s gymnastics, 60 young men from across the state have trained countless hours to compete at the 8th annual 20MAC Throwdown.
20 Mile Athletic Center will be hosting the day-long competition on Jan. 28, where boys between the ages of 6 and 15 will compete in all six artistic gymnastic events: floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bars.
The competition will be open to the public and will be an opportunity for people to get a glimpse of what early to mid-level gymnastics is. The competition will also include a few higher level athletes.
“A lot of times when people think of men’s gymnastics, they’re like, ‘Oh, these big guys in the olympics’ and it’s like, this is where the core is,” said Cesar Cantu, men’s program director at 20 Mile Athletic Center. “This is where we’re starting them and then pushing them through several levels into the process of developing those elite athletes.”
Parents are excited for their boys to compete.
“I love seeing his confidence grow with the sport,” said mother Sarah Nolan. “The progress he makes with every practice or meet shows him that he is capable of anything he puts his mind to.”
Nolan’s 10 year old son, River, trains a total of 10 hours per week. When he is not in the gym, he does strength training at home.
Originally putting her kids in gymnastics as a way to utilize their energy, Krissy Rutigliano has two sons competing this weekend. Dustin is 10 years old and has been competing in the throwdown for four years and his younger brother, Ryder, who is six years old, will be competing for the first time.
Both boys do conditioning, strength training and stretching with the coaches at 20 Mile Athletic Center. Dustin trains 16 hours per week while Ryder trains seven hours.
“They both train on all six apparatuses, just like you see in the Olympics,” said Rutigliano.
Rutigliano said competition can be nerve racking to watch as a parent, but that it is rewarding. Not only do the kids form tight friendships with their teammates, she loves that they can learn how to work together as a team and encourage each other’s hard efforts.
The demanding sport competes individually on each of the six apparatuses as well as a team. In addition to team and individual awards, there is an all around athletes award given to the athlete who accumulates the most points after the full competition.
“They learn how to lose, which is a skill that a lot of kids need to learn to be successful in the world, as well as the hard work and effort it takes to win,” said Rutigliano. “As with many sports, accepting and understanding the losses always seems to make the wins so much sweeter in the end.”
With her 10 year old son competing in the 20MAC Throwdown for the first time, Mandy Austin is excited to see her son’s hard work pay off.
“It’s just kind of cool to see these boys rise above and go against their teammates within their individual scores and just keep on raising up the ante,” said Austin.