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Gold Country boys set for USAG Regionals

The Gold Country boy Gymnastics team. Back row from left: Rhett Miller, Chance Bacon and Brandon Pengelley. Front row from left: Jeffrey Wagnecht and Nathan Arthur.
Submitted to The Union |

To be an elite gymnast it takes dedication, focus and determination, said local youth gymnast Brandon Pengelley.

Confidence also plays a part.

“You have to have that mindset that I’m going to make it, I’m going to do good,” he said. “It’s right on the border of confidence and arrogance.”



For Pengelley, 16, and his teammates on the Gold Country boys gymnastics team all the hard work and dedication has paid off and they are confident as they head into the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic Regional Competition Thursday through Sunday in Ontario, California.

“There are a lot of bragging rights that goes into this,” said Gold Country coach Steve Edwards. “NorCal has always been the team to beat, so we take a lot of pride in going and being able to beat places like southern California.”




Pengelley, Nathan Arthur, Jeffrey Wagnecht and Chance Bacon are all representing the Northern California region as well as Gold Country Gymnastics at the regional competition which features the top youth gymnasts from Northern California, Southern California, Hawaii, Arizona and Nevada.

“The fact that they made it speaks volumes about the time and effort they have put in,” said Edwards. “It was difficult and sometimes it seems insurmountable to achieve that goal and it’s hard to stay psyched up and go through an entire season, through states and into regionals.”

To make the regional competition a gymnast must be a top finisher at the state competition.

For Pengelley, who competes in Level 7 (13-18 year olds), this is his first foray into the regional meet.

“I’m just there to have fun and experience it,” he said. “I want to do the best I can and hopefully place in some events.”

Pengelley, who is a state champion on the rings and hi-bar, said he has continually improved his skills with each high level competition.

“I have to step it up otherwise I’ll get beat,” he said. “I want to make it on the podium, if not every time at least once.”

Also competing for Gold Country Gymnastics in Level 7 (11-12 year olds) is Nathan Arthur, 12.

Arthur, who is competing at his second regional competition, said he hopes to keep working on his form and hopes for the best.

“He stepped it up,” said Edwards of Arthur. “He had a lot of the skills already and we just had to fine tune it this year.”

Competing in Level 5 is Chance Bacon, 11, who said he has been doing gymnastics “basically” his whole life.

Bacon’s best quality is his strength, he said.

“He’s incredibly strong,” said Edwards. “We use that strength to his advantage, and he sets himself apart from the rest of the gymnasts because he does things that are very impressive in the strength department.”

Also competing in Level 5 is Jeffrey Wagnecht, 11, who finished in first place all-around at the state competition, including first place finishes in the floor exercise, the pommel and the parallel bars. With his performance at the state competition Wagnecht earned a spot on the NorCal Regional All-Star team.

Wagnecht said he hopes to continue improving at regionals, especially in the events he feels he struggles in.

“He’s one of those raw talent kids,” said Edwards. “He’s just naturally hardwired for it. He personifies what it means to do things correctly and with the highest level of form.”

Also qualifying for the regional competition is Rhett Miller, 14, but he will have to miss out on this year’s event due to an injury.

While Miller is disappointed to miss out on the event, he hasn’t lost his fervor for the sport.

“Its disappointing, but I’m looking forward to the offseason and getting better,” he said. “(Gymnastics) is super fun. It’s way cooler than any other sport. You get to do all this sweet stuff. I just really like it and I’ve been doing it all my life.”

The team as a whole is a tight knit group that gets along and works well with each other. They take a very business like approach to their sport, but leave room for fun as well.

“We’re serious most of the time, we have fun, but we are mostly serious,” said Bacon.

Wagnecht agreed.

“Most of the time we’re serious,” he said. “But part of the time we goof off a little.”

That’s just the way Edwards likes it, who said he is all business at practice, but loosens up at the competitions.

As the team prepares for regionals, Edwards said that no matter what happens, the team has already achieved so much.

“I am incredibly proud of them and the hard work and the commitment they have put into it,” Edwards said. “Win or lose, they still grew and learned and had life lessons and that’s what its all about.”

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.


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