Slug gymnasts make their debut

Joshua Smith won first place on the rings when the College Gymnastics Club went to its first competition.
Gymnasts in Halloween costume watch UCSC's Jennifer Wickett on the uneven bars; she tied for second place in that event. (Photos by Susan Valladao)

The mood was festive, but the competition was serious when the Gymnastics Club took the floor in its first meet last week.

The newly formed club traveled to Berkeley November 3 to compete against club teams from UC Berkeley and UC Davis. Slug gymnasts came home with first and third places in the men's all around and a tie for second place in the women's uneven bars. Nine students and one staff employee competed for UCSC.

Participants were encouraged to wear Halloween costumes to the event--dubbed the 6th Annual Halloween Invitational and sanctioned by the National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Clubs.

Joshua Smith, a first-year bioengineering student, took first place in pommel horse and rings. On parallel bars, Smith earned a second place and took third in high bar and floor. He also took first place for the all-around award, with teammate Ryan Brenner, a second-year Oakes College student, taking third. Joshua Horsley, a fourth-year economics and philosophy major, earned third place on men's pommel horse.

Jennifer Wickett, a second-year anthropology student, tied for second place in the women's uneven bars.

The College Gymnastics Club was formed in January 2007, inspired by Andrew McMartin, an economics student, gymnast, and coach. With the help of students Florence Rubinger, Jenna Yamaguma, and Sophia Spiteri, the club soon began attracting members.

The club is supported by Santa Cruz Sports Central, which generously provides access to its facility, considered one of the state's best.

Michelle Telega, owner of Santa Cruz Sports Central, said she was "very excited to provide facilities and opportunity for collegiate gymnastics in the area" and "would love to see the Slug gymnasts develop into NCAA teams."

Today the club has 13 men and 17 women. Abilities range from complete novice to gymnasts who have competed at the national level. Practices are four times a week, with club members coaching each other. Membership is open to students, staff, and faculty.

For more information about the College Gymnastics Club, go to

Slug gymnasts will compete again on November 17 at 2 p.m. at UC Davis's lower Hickey Gymnasium.