A 1st state championship for Steamboat’s Excel Gymnastics | SteamboatToday.com

A 1st state championship for Steamboat’s Excel Gymnastics

Eric Casey, 9, wins vault competition in Littleton

Luke Graham

Cole Gibbs, left, and Eric Casey stand inside Excel Gymnastics in Steamboat Springs. The two Steamboat gymnasts returned from the state meet. Eric won the vault championship, and Cole placed second in vault and high bar.

— Eric Casey made local history on Sunday.

Eric, 9, is the first boy from Steamboat Springs' Excel Gymnastics to win a state championship.

"I was really, really happy," Eric said Monday during practice at the west Steamboat gymnastics facility. "I haven't stuck many vaults this year. I was really psyched."

Eric competed Sunday at Apex Gymnastics in Littleton. The Level 5 competition was for gymnasts ages 7 to 9 and featured 84 competitors.

Eric, who finished seventh in the vault at state last year, did a required front flip onto stacked mats. He scored a 15.6 out of a possible 15.7.

"It's been our goal all year to get him to first place," coach Mike Smith said. "We really focused on that. When he hit the vault and stuck it, I knew it."

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Fellow Excel gymnast Cole Gibbs also had a sparkling weekend at the Level 8 state championships in Lafayette. Level 8 is for gymnasts ages 11 to 13.

Cole, 13, finished second in the vault and high bar, fourth on the parallel bars and fifth on his floor routine. He also finished fifth in the all-around.

"I think I could have done better on a few events," Cole said. "I had a bunch of little things and falls. It could have been better. I need to clean those up for regionals."

Both gymnasts qualified for the Regional Championships on April 9 and 10 at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The regional meet will feature top gymnasts from Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming.

"Judging will be a little bit harder," Smith said. Eric has "got to be spot on. With Cole, we're working on some consistency and a new vault (routine)."

The weekend events kicked off a busy time for Excel gymnasts.

In addition to the regional event, the boys Level 4 state championships begin April 2 in Fort Collins. Philo Shelton and Jason Starks will represent Excel.

On Saturday, Julia Gibbs and Taylor Rogers will compete in Thornton in the girls Level 7 state championships.

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