ArtSports boasts 22 Nationals qualifiers, 3 champions

       Out of 22 ArtSports students who had qualified to compete in this summer's USA Gymnastics Trampoline and Power Tumbling National Championships in Chicago, 3 won the events within their specific age group and skill levels.
       These were Tim Rohlfing, 17, in the ages 17-and-up power tumbling (also a qualifier in double-mini trampoline); Holland Lohse, 17, in the 17-and-up trampoline; and Chad Bowman, 8, in the 7-8 double-mini trampoline (also a qualifier in trampoline).
       ArtSports is a large trampoline and gymnastic center at 780 Vondelpark Drive in the Holland Park area. Owned by Mike and Christin Zapp, the facility opened last year after eight years in which the Zapps had leased space off Northpark Road.
       To qualify for Nationals, athletes needed to be judged as having the appropriate skills at the Regional and State events last spring. Just winning was not sufficient to qualify.
       While the Nationals provide “bragging rights,” even more significant are the efforts that the winning athletes and many of the center's other students are continually putting forth to raise their abilities to the “elite” level that would allow them to compete against the best in the world and could even lead to the Olympics, Mike Zapp explained.
       Closest to this point among the three champions is Lohse, who won at Level 9 and is training for Level 10 (one step below elite). However, in his case, the goal is not the Olympics but Cirque Du Soleil. Being good enough to perform with that internationally renowned gymnastic entertainment troupe would be “equal to the Olympics,” Lohse said. “It's more free-spirited. They play around and have fun. I love competition, but I like showing off better.”
       Rohlfing, who has reached Level 7 after a year of taking classes at ArtSports, has improved enough to compete at Level 9, according to ArtSports head coach Tex Womack. “He's made amazing progress in one year.” The coach was also impressed that Rohlfing did so well despite a broken hand that had not completely healed when the Nationals were held.
       Rohlfing said his near-term goal is to become a Level 10 tumbler and, next year, to make the world age-group championships in Quebec.
       Bowman has been training at ArtSports for two years. Now at Level 8 in both his events, he has his sights set on reaching “elite” in each. This would put him with a relatively small group of athletes as young as he is, Womack pointed out. Despite the regular practicing, “it's fun,” Bowman said.
       Other ArtSports students qualifying for Nationals at the State or Regional competitions in one or more events were Missy Buckingham, Corinna Rayner, Devin Perry, Kaitlin Perez, Addie Buckingham, Andrew Miller, Savanna Carson, Shelby Johnson, Kayla Cantwell, Sarah Sheedy, Bryan Noll, Kerri Kirkhuff, Megan Carrigan, Isaiah Turner, Cory Carpenter, Sam Chiacchia, Madison Thomas, Kristen Bowman and John Hart.
       Zapp said that the time commitment for serious tumbling and trampoline (sometimes known as “TnT”) athletes is less than in some other gymnastic disciplines. For example, “athletes training 6 hours per week in TnT reach the same level as artistic gymnasts who train over 30 hours per week,” he said.
       The TnT events were recently added as Olympic sports. In previous years, some ArtSports students competed internationally at the elite level. “Randy Dureen was the number one tumbler in America and took third in the world,” Zapp said. “Josh Vance was number one on double-mini trampoline and 13th in the world.”

Westside Pioneer article