Janesville's Struebin joins nation's other top gymnasts in Portland
JANESVILLE The best of the best.
That's who will compete in this week's USA Gymnastics Men's Junior Olympic National Championships in Portland, Ore.
Dalton Struebin will be among them.
The Janesville Craig junior qualified in the all-around and begins competition today. Struebin qualified for the national meet thanks to a strong performance at a regional meet at the University of Minnesota. This is the fourth time Struebin will compete at the national tournament.
The Junior Olympics is a USA Gymnastics-sanctioned event featuring the top male gymnasts in the country ages 11-18. Most, if not all, of the 2016 USA Olympic Team will compete.
"I've had a couple of top 10s at the national meet, but I've never done as well as I thought I should've," Struebin said. "I've fallen a couple of times and just haven't performed at my best at the meet.
"But I think this year is going to be different. I've really worked on my strength and conditioning, and I'm much more confident going in."
The 16-year-old Struebin trains at CSA Gymnastic Center in Janesville under his father, Brian, and at the Swiss Turners Gymnastic Academy in West Allis. Struebin makes the trek to West Allis three times a week, where he trains under the tutelage of Olympic coaches Andre Kan and Alex Belanovski, who was named USA Gymnastics 2012 Men's National Coach of the Year. The Swiss Turners are the No. 1-ranked team for their age group in the country and won the 2012 national club championship.
"It's pretty intense in West Allis," Struebin said of the commitment and training regimen. "But it has helped me get to where I am now as far as being confident and ready for a meet like the Junior Olympics."
Brian Struebin said training in West Allis has enabled Dalton to reach Level 10 as a gymnast, the highest level attainable for his age group.
"I'm pretty intense when I think about my coaching and how I am at CSA, but it's nothing like it is for Dalton in West Allis," Brian said. "It has gotten to the point where he knows when his coaches are mad because they start yelling in Russian. But he's also getting world-class instruction, too."
Dalton became interested in gymnastics at a young age when he watched his older sister, McKenna, compete for a CSA club team. He started competing in the sport at age 6 and has qualified for the national meet four years in a row.
At Portland, Dalton will compete in the all-around competition. All-around consists of pommel horse, parallel bars, horizontal bar, still rings, vault and floor exercise. He believes floor exercise is his best event and pommel horse the most demanding.
Struebin needs to advance to Saturday's finals through today's qualifying round in order to have a chance to compete for the U.S. national team. A berth on the U.S. team would allow Dalton to compete on an international level and give him the opportunity to try out for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.
"I'm hoping for no falls and a score around 80," Dalton said of today's opening round. "I think that would be good enough to get me into the finals."
A spot in the finals would move Dalton Struebin one step closer to his ultimate goal—a chance to compete for the United States at the 2016 Summer Olympics.