By Johnny Jackson
The FlipCity South Tumbling and Trampoline Program, in McDonough, has produced top-ten finishers in the Junior Olympic National Championships in Virginia Beach, Va.
There were more than 200 teams from 38 states, and the McDonough-based group took home three third-place finishes. The team also achieved a fifth-, eighth-, and 10th-place finish among more than 1,800 athletes who took part in the USA Gymnastics-sanctioned national competition, held June 27-July 2.
"I feel they did excellent, they placed in the top ten among the best of the best," said FlipCity South Owner and Operator Frank Riley.
USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for the sport of gymnastics, recently announced the championship's top performers and nationally ranked competitors. Included among them are FlipCity South tumbler, Brenda Riley, who took third in the Level 5 category for female tumblers, ages 6 and under.
Officials reported that Chase Dennis placed third in the tumbling competition in the male 9-10-year-old group, for Level 6. Kendall Mitchell took ninth-place in the competition in the male 9-to10-year-old age group, for Level 7. Teammate, Payton Mitchell, placed fifth in the male 11-12-year-old age group, for Level 8.
Mariah Johnson placed 35th in the female 13-to-14-year-old age group, also for Level 8. TreDonavouis Bush placed eighth among male tumblers in the 15-16-year-old group, in Level 10, while Garrett Wheeler and Valentine Mba placed 10th and 11th in the same division.
USA Gymnastics standings also put FlipCity South's Noah Riley in third place among his male peers nationwide, in the "double mini trampoline" competition, in the 7-to-8-year-old age group, for Level 5.
"For some of them, this was their first time," Riley said. "They were nervous. I got nervous, and parents were nervous. [And] a lot of my kids are used to taking first, so the ones that took higher placements, they took it hard. They're not used to placing that way. But as long as they went out there and tried their best, I'm happy. To me, they improved a lot."
Riley noted that the competition was an example of character-building for his pupils, a major component in the tumbling and trampoline program. He said he created the program about six years ago through his non-profit organization, Riley 4 Kids, in order to provide character-making experiences for area youths.
"It gives them a way off the streets, and it teaches them character," said Riley, who now coaches some 60 children, ages 5-15, at the Cheertown Athletics facility in McDonough, along with fellow tumbler, Keith Dennis.
The young tumblers completed their 2010 tumbling season on a high note, Riley said. He said they train year-round and raise money to attend regional and national contests, during the competition season which begins in December and goes through July.
Coaches Riley and Dennis operate the tumbling and trampoline program through donations and grants to Riley's non-profit organization. To learn more about the program, visit the FlipCity South web site at www.flipcitysouth.com.