Airdrie twirlers win big at nationals

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The Airdrie Sky High Twirlers (ASHT) is showing it is a force to be reckoned with in competitive baton twirling in Canada.

Twenty-three ASHT members made the trip to Winnipeg to compete at the Canadian Baton Twirling Championship, held July 1 to 6 at the University of Manitoba. Nine athletes returned with gold medals.

“It was definitely one of our better national championships we’ve had – the girls did great this year,” said ASHT head coach Taelyr Patton.

“I think we’ve definitely made our way into being one of the top clubs in Alberta, and definitely moving towards the top clubs in Canada, for sure.”

ASHT’s ‘Shake the Room’ – comprised of Marissa Bienley, Kensey Epp, Paige Epp and Megan Smith – won gold in the juvenile category (9 to 14 years old) for its small dance-twirl routine. Kensey Epp – one of the club’s youngest competitors at nationals this year – also won gold for her solo, freestyle and 2baton routines in the 9 to 11 age group.

Brooke Mauro was another gold-medal winner for Airdrie, placing first with her routine in the Medley event for the Juvenile A (U14) age group.

“The week was very good,” said Mauro, who made the podium in three of her five events. “I thought it was one of my best competitions of the season.”

Other ASHT athletes who took home the gold for their solo routines were Emily Lewell, who won first place for her 3baton routine in the 12 to 14 age group, and Anna Wiedemann, who won the solo routine.

“I’m just really proud of the girls and how well they did,” Patton said.

The club also fared well in paired events. In the 12 to 14 age group, Megan Smith and Marissa Bienley won gold for their pair routine, while Claire Zeep and Sophia-Grace Gammel received gold for their duet performance, as well.

According to Patton, some ASHT members already have their sights set on qualifying for international competitions in 2019.

“None of our girls qualified for worlds (this year), but four of them went to the trials – which were in May – and they all did very well,” Patton said. “It’s very hard to qualify – they only take the top three for individual events and the top pair.

“We’re hoping next year, for the International Cup in Bordeaux, France, that we’ll have some girls and teams qualify.”

With the summer competition season wrapped up, Patton said the ASHT is taking a break until early September, when classes and programs start up again.

“But I know some of them have already been meeting in the gym, training for next season,” she said.

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