Sports

Leaping Leopard wins national jump rope title

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

Ryan Fitzgerald is a national champion.

The fourth-grader on the Leaping Leopards jump rope team finished first in the 11-and-under single rope freestyle event at the 2004 National Jump Rope Championships at Walt Disney World in Orlando. The competition culminated June 27 in Florida.

Fitzgerald was one of eight students from the Federal Way jump rope team to compete at the national championships. The Leaping Leopards are based out of Lake Grove Elementary School and began competing in 1997. Fitzgerald attends Point Defiance Elementary in Tacoma.

“We couldn’t believe it,” said Leaping Leopards coach Dana Henry. “We set our goals just to get to nationals. He just did a great job. His mom was crying.”

Fitzgerald’s winning performance will be broadcast across the nation by ESPN. The cable sports network filmed the top-three performers in each category and will air the 2004 National Jump Rope Championships sometime in September, according to Henry.

“They even interviewed him and everything,” she said.

Fitzgerald wasn’t the only Leaping Leopard to pick up some hardware in Orlando. Sacajawea Middle School eighth-grader Brian Hsu took home 10th place in the 12-14 year old 60-second speed competition after completing 143 jumps in one minute. Also placing 10th was the Double Dutch freestyle team of Jake Anderson (Nautilus Elementary fourth grader), Lily Trang (Enterprise second grader) and Fitzgerald.

“Everybody did so good,” Henry said. “We are proud of them.”

Other Leaping Leopards to make the trek to Florida were 2004 Federal Way High School grad Hazel Bell-Robinson, Federal Way sophomore Christina Bell-Robinson, Todd Beamer sophomore Elaine Trang and Lakota Middle School eighth-grader Kirstin Larson.

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