Bartlett doesn’t have a boys gymnastics team, but it’s got some fantastic gymnasts.
Senior Jonathon Fornoff and sophomore Michael Paradise were in California in May for the Junior Olympic National Gymnastics Championships.
Fornoff placed 21st in the all-around in the Junior Elite competition, while Paradise was crowned the pommel horse national champion in the Junior Olympic competition. Paradise also took eighth on parallel bars and finished 25th in the all-around.
“I felt that I did pretty well, and I just want to thank my parents and coaches for giving me the chance to make it to that level and achieve what I did,” Paradise said. “I’m pretty proud of myself and winning the pommel horse means a lot to me. It’s probably one of my favorite events and it confirms that my hard working is paying off.”
The pommel horse can defeat even the best gymnasts, but it’s become an event that Paradise is now dominating.
“When I was younger, it was a lot more challenging, and I had a lot of trouble with it,” he said. “I was able to turn it around and make it one of my best events.”
Fornoff fought through an illness during the national competition.
“All year round the whole season was going good for me. I won a few things and was happy with my progress,” Fornoff said. “I felt pretty solid going into nationals but got sick just before them. I was recovering on the first day so it was pretty rough. The second day went pretty well, but being me, I’m never really pleased. It wasn’t horrible, but not where I wanted to be either.”
He’ll be where he wants to be in three weeks, though. Fornoff begins basic training at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he’ll continue his gymnastics career.
“Maybe since I was seven or eight (years old), I thought I could be able to get to college,” he said. “I know it sounds cocky, but I know my coach (Chris McKee) has sent countless kids to college and I felt I’d go because of him. I just worked really hard for it.”
Paradise intends on becoming a college gymnast as well, but still has a couple years before he graduates from high school.
“I plan on using this summer to improve as a gymnast on everything and to increase my skill levels,” he said. “I’ve done gymnastics for 10 years now and it’s what I want to do. It has its troubles like other sports, but the benefits outweigh the negatives.”
While Fornoff will look to make a name for himself at the U.S. Air Force and Paradise continues at the junior level, another Bartlett gymnast, Michael Strathern (2011) helped the University of Michigan win its second straight NCAA men’s national title in April.