Brady Johnson, Autumn Lemanski and Conrad Gebauer jump rope so quick you lose track of how many times they have jumped.
The trio of students from Halmstad Elementary School in Chippewa Falls are training for the 55th annual Speed Rope Jump Contest in Bloomer this Saturday.
Last year 23 schools and 212 jumpers participated in the contest for grades 1-8.
This will be the third year Johnson, a fifth grader, will be jumping at the Bloomer competition.
“Nervous,” is how he described he felt the other two times. “I just try to jump as fast as I can.”
He does well at that. He won the school’s Division III qualification for Bloomer with 52 jumps. For comparison, the 2014 grand champion at Bloomer, Vaughn Zwiefelhofer, won with 63 jumps.
Here are some of the contest’s official rules:
“Each student will jump for a 10-second period of time. They will receive 1 point for each time the rope passes under their feet. Double or more jumping is not allowed.
“Each student will have two tries and the highest score of the two will be their score. If the rope catches, the count continues on from the number of jumps made before the catch, the clock will not be stopped. Contestants are allowed a maximum of 30 seconds between their two tries.
“The judges have the right to restart any jump during which they lose count on the timer.”
That’s a lot of pressure on the competitors. Especially if they make their way into the evening finals before the usually-packed gymnasium at Bloomer High School.
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It’s OK to be nervous. Johnson’s advice to other jumpers: “If they do get scared, just try your best.”
Count on Autumn Lemanski to do the best she can. The Halmstad fourth grader will try to better her personal best of 45 jumps in 10 seconds. She’s been in training for about three weeks, working about 30 minutes each day.
Is it hard? Yes, she giggles.
Then why do it? “Because it’s fun,” she replies. Her goal: To make third place or better in her division at Bloomer.
This will be the first year at the Bloomer contest for Conrad Gebauer, a first grader at Halmstad. He’s also been training for what he describes as a long time. He hopes to better his personal best of 41 jumps.
The Bloomer contest has been well received by the students, said physical education teacher Mike Bestul, who taught at Southview and Jim Falls Elementary before joining Halmstad four years ago.
He said all students in grades 1-5 are given a rope by the school, and they practice on their skills during Christmas break.
The students are told not to worry about how others are faring, but focus on their jumping and try to make improvements. Bestul said the students are trying to improve their personal records.
“This is something that, if you practice, you’re going to get better,” he said.
Preliminary competition will begin at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Finalists in each division will compete in the evening session that starts at 7 p.m. The “Swinging Safari,” a student group doing precision rope jumping routines, will entertain during the contest.
An all day-night pass per person to attend the contest is $5, and a family pass for four or more in a family is $20. Children age 5 and under will be admitted for free.