Chapter 12

Lee Bjella 2015


Many thanks to Jim Holt for his help with this chapter.

Ackerman, Graham  JO gymnast - worked out with UW men. Mark Russo was his coach. JO National Floor Champ. Two time all American on P-bars at Cal. On US team for 2003 World Student Games.

Bennett, Bo UW gymnast who met his first wife, Linda, in the gym. They were on the Seattle Gymnastics Club team that toured Asia in 1968. Bo's hometown is Tacoma. In 1965 he placed 3rd in the National AAU Junior Championships. In 1968 he won the Pacific Northwest College Rings Championship. Bo was an all-around gymnast and was a member of the comedy "hand balancing" act.

Benson, Jack (From the Eastern WA University 2008 Hall of Fame - from their website:

A former student-athlete, long-time gymnastics coach and faculty member at Eastern, Benson led one of the premier teams in NAIA for 13 seasons from 1966-1970 (five seasons) and 1973-1980 (eight seasons). Nine times Eastern placed in the top 10 at the NAIA Championships under Benson, including third in 1968, fourth in 1967, fifth in 1977 and 1978 and sixth in 1969 when Eastern had its fourth-straight top 10 national finish under Benson. His 1967 squad finished 7-1, with the lone loss coming to the University of Washington. The team lost only once in 1968, again to the UW. Benson coached three individual NAIA champions, and his athletes won a collective total of 13 All-America honors. He served on several NAIA gymnastics committees, including two terms as the president and several years on the rules committee. He also was the gymnastics representative on the NAIA Coaches Board of Directors.

Benson graduated from Eastern in 1965 where he competed in gymnastics, and in 1962 he competed in the NCAA Championships in the horizontal bar and rope climb. As a result, he was selected as Eastern's Male Athlete of the Year. He went on to serve as an assistant coach at Washington State University, where he received his master's degree. In the 1971-72 school year, Benson worked on his doctorate degree at Oregon State University. He coached two seasons at Renton, Wash., High School, leading the school to a pair of third-place finishes at the state championships. He is a retired member of the Eastern physical education and health department and still volunteers as a timer at Eastern football games. He graduated from Bothell, Wash., High School. 

Bohrmann, Gunter  Born in Wiesbaden, Germany, Jan. 7,1940. (Died Jan. 2006.) Competed on a club team in his hometown and later on the German National Team (1960-1962). After graduating from high school in 1959, he attended the University of Mainz, majoring in English. Gunter came to America and attended the UW. He joined the Husky gymnasts team in 1962, and got his BA in English and in 1967 his Masters in P.E. He is a former Pacific Northwest all Around Champion. In 1963 he was Pacific NW champ on Horizontal Bar, P.Bars, Long Horse, and All-Around for UW. Was in the 1964 Olympic Trials. In 1965 he was AAU Junior Champion in floor ex., long horse, and parallel bars. Toured with the Huskey Gymnastics Club in 1966. In 1968 he was on the Seattle Gymnastics Club Team that toured Asia. He taught and coached the boy's team (1962-1982) at Kent-Meridian High School. He had 5 league championships, 15 regional championships and 8 state championships. They were ranked #1 in the nation in 1979. Coached the girl's team from 1985-2000, when he retired. Began assisting the Sumner girl's team in 2003. 3 league championships, 4 district championships and 1 state championship. Gunter was voted High School Girls Coach of the Year 1989 and 2001. Coached at Jerry Penney's Christmas Camps in the 1970's. Coached many future coaches. (Joe Rapp, Gordy, Bert and Kevin Bylin, Mike and Tony Yonomitzu, John Diaz, Tom Hardin (1980 National Team) and Kelly Donyes). WSGCA Hall of Fame 2002. USAG WA Hall of Fame 2005.

Buckingham, Mark  Highline H.S. Was on State championship team, coached by Ev Woodward. UW gymnast, and All-American 1965. 5th at NCAA in 1965 in vault. MVP at UW in 1966. Won conference on parallel bars in 1966. Coached boys at Issaquah High, 1968-70.

Bylin, Kevin, Bert and Gordy  Brothers from Kent Meridian High School. Gordy went on to coach girls and boys at Skagit Valley Dimensions in Mount Vernon.

Carpenter, Bill  From Illinios. UW gymnast. Pac 8 Conference Champ 1973, and '74 on High Bar.

Carruthers, Randall  Born August 26, 1947. Attended Bothell High School. Won High School State All-Around in 1964 and 1965. Gymnast at Eastern Washington State College - NAIA Vault Champ in 1968, and All-American for three years. Got Masters' Degree from Penn State and worked with Gene Wettstones' team for two years. Was gymnastics coach from 1971-1972 at State University New York at Brockport, and at Portland State University in Oregon 1980-81 season.

Cooley, Melvin  From Los Angeles. UW gymnast. Pac-8 High Bar Champ 1978, and Gymnast of the Year. 1978 NCAA Champ on High Bar-and received a standing ovation from the Oregon crowd - and he beat future Olympian Bart Conner. (2nd place in 1977) 1978 AAU High Bar Champ, All-American 1977, '78. UW Hall of Fame 1994.

Crockett, Jeff  UW gymnast 1999-2003. Created the double twisting jaeger on high bar. Hopes to perform it internationally and have it named after him.

Crow, Bill  Lincoln HS-Seattle grad 1955. UW gymnast. Pacific Northwest College Meet, Floor Ex., Trampoline and Vault Champion in 1957; Vault, Tumbling and Trampoline 1958; Horizontal Bar 1960. 1961 National AAU 4th on flying rings and 4th in tumbling. Coached boys at Lk.Washington HS in 1966.

David, Jim  Blanchet HS State Champ All-Around 1961. UW gymnast 1961-'65. All American 1963, '64, and '65. He was Western US champion in tumbling and floor exercise and second in the nation for three years in tumbling and third in floor ex. Jim was the UW "Athlete of the Year" in 1964. He placed 2nd in tumbling and 4th in FX at the NCAA Championships. He toured with the Seattle Gymnastics Club. He married Pauline who was also a Club member. Jim won four AAWU championships. In 1966 he toured New Zealand and Australia with the national team coached by Eric Hughes. He was a member of the clown acts at the club. Those acts were trampoline, hand balancing, and tumbling. UW Hall of Fame inductee in 1987. Seattle Gymnastics Club touring team and went to Asia in 1968.

Davis, Rex  WSU gymnastics team 1949. Started teaching at Richland in 1955. Had the first boys competitive team in 1957. First girls competition 1960-61. Competed with Kennewick HS, also in Seattle area. Coached at WSU, and then coached tennis. Taught at Gym Kamp.

Denny, Charlie  Kennewick HS gymnast. UW Husky. 1959 he placed 10th at NCAA Championships. This was the first national meet for any UW gymnast. National AAU champ 1962 in Flying Rings. Was the last National Champ on college flying rings. Was named to the AAU All American Men's Gymnastic Team for Swinging Rings in 1962. Coached Issaquah HS boys, 1961-1968, then at Kentridge HS. Worked at Gym Kamp. He coached Norm Reid in HS

Dichmeyer, Bob  Bothell High School, WSU gymnast. 1974 Pac-8 Vault Champ.

Driscoll, Les  UW gymnast in the late 1950's. Coached at West Seattle High. Coached many gymnasts who went on to distinguish themselves in college, most notably Steve Yates (UW) and Ken Hovermale (WSU).

Eliason, Jay  WSU one of the early top gymnasts there. His specialty was Rope Climb with record climb of 4.4 seconds. He went on to the 1960 NCAA Championships where he placed 9th. He was team captain that year.

Flansaas, Mike  Was gymnast at Highline and Glacier High Schools. Coached by Ev Woodward. Former Husky gymnast 1963-'66, MVP 1966. Pacific Northwest College Meet champion in 1966 and 1967 in the All-around; 1967 champ on Side Horse, Still Rings, Horizontal Bar and the 1966 champ on Parallel Bars. Graduated from UW with degree in P.E. Assistant gymnastic coach for UW. Was married to Dale McClements at one time. Owned a gym in Reno, Nevada.

Fonseca, Rick  Franklin HS had no team but he competed at the "Y". UW gymnast, beginning in 1965. Conference Champ on Tramp in 1967. Coached in Hawaii. (Coached Matt Lyum who later went to UW in the 1980's.)

Fraiser, Jim 

Fukushima, Sho  From Japan. UW team member. Went to Kent HS one year before UW. One of the best all-arounders to attend UW. Pacific Northwest College Meet All-Around Champion, 1968 and 1969. 5th AA NCAA 1971. All American 1969. Wrote a book called Men's Gymnastics in 1980. National coach of Denmark after leaving UW, then head coach at Cal. State. Current head coach for US Naval Academy.

Gaylor, Rich  (1951-2002) UW gymnast and team captain. Pac 8 Champ and NCAA 2nd place on Vault in 1973. All-American. Translated three Russian gym texts into English in the 1970's. Became avid golfer and coached in Reno.

Hailand Frank.  Assistant coach at UW as a grad assistant. Two time National Champ NCAA. From Illinois. He got Jim David (UW) to do a double back. Married Carolyn Suver who was a Highland High gymnast. Early influence on Joyce Tanac Shroeder.

Hall, Bob  UW gymnast from Illinois. UW gymnast starting in 1961. Pacific Northwest All-Around for 3 years and the Pacific Coast Champion in 1965. He placed second on the side horse and fourth in the all-around in the 1965 National Collegiate meet. All American in 1964, and '65. After graduation, he earned a berth on the National team. He was Washington States first National team member -1966- and went to Vienna for the Gymnaestrada, where he won the National all-around championship of Australia and New Zealand. Member of the 1968 Seattle Gymnastics Club touring group to Asia. Member of the Clubs' comedy team. Became a dentist. UW Hall of Fame 1988. Died of leukemia summer of 2002.

Hardin, Tom  State AA Champ in 1977, winning all events except Rings (2nd place). Was the number one recruit of the 1977 high school class nationally. Distinguished AA at Iowa State and National Team member and competed in the Olympic Trials in 1980.

Hayasaki, Yoshi  From Japan. Went to Issaquah HS. UW gymnast and P.E. major. UW was a power house in the nation in the late 1960's and the 1970's. In 1967 he won the National AAU all-around championship, and was named UW's "Athlete of the Year". Yoshi won the National USGF All-Around in 1968. Yoshi was the National NCAA champ on HB and All-Around in 1970, and in 1971 he was the All-Around champ. All-American in 1968, 1970, and 1971. In 1968 he toured Asia with the Seattle Gymnastics Club. Inducted into the UW Hall of Fame in 1983. Went on to coach at Illinois which won the NCAA championship in 1989. 2000 Honor Coach Award of the CGA.

Hermansson, Bjorn  UW gymnast. Competed for Sweden in the 1974 World Championships.

Hildebrand, Terry  In 9th grade worked out at the "Y" with George Lewis in 1956. In Highline District he trained with Ev Woodward and Bob Sarver. Was a top performer and won AAU meets and High School All- Around 1957, '58 '59 and '60's. Went to UW but had a crippling injury.

Holt, Jim   Lincoln-Tacoma High School gymnast. WSU gymnast 1970-'74. UW assistant men's coach 1976-80. Head Coach 1980-1989. Assistant coach 1989-1993. Coached Roosevelt High School girls. Judges both men and women. Meet Director at Good Will Games in Seattle 1990.

Holtman, Dan  Federal Way. WSU gymnast. Captain his junior and senior years. In his senior year, 1970-'71, Dan became the first Cougar to make it to finals at the Pacific-8 conference. He ended up fourth in compulsory vault and eighth in the finals.

Howell, Geoffrey  Cascade Elite gymnast under coach Wayne Kerr. 1997 US Gymnastics Championships. Went on to U. Cal - Santa Barbara and did very well.

Hunter, Ron  UW gymnast, competed for Canada in the 1970 World Student Games.

Huntzicker, Eric  UW gymnast and three year team captain. Represented US in the World Club Championships in Chile.

Johnson, Jeff  UW men's team member in 1990's, who won a USAG National Championship in Rings in 1998. At the 2002 World Championships in Debrecen, Hungary, Jeff placed 8th on Rings. Jeff was the first UW gymnast to compete for the USA at a Worlds Championship.

Kelch, Jim One of the top male gymnasts to come out of Washington State in the 1970's. At the AAU National Jr. Olympics, he took 6th AA in 1970, 3rd in 1971 and 2nd in 1972 behind Bart Conner. He started out at the Yakima Y. His dad would bring him up to Central State University to be coached by Dick Foxal. (Dick coached Jim for seven years.) When Dick moved to Eugene, Oregon, when Jim was about to enter 9th grade, his family moved to Eugene. Jim was the first young boy to learn stalders and was the only one doing them at the time. (Jim's dad opened the first gym for the Mulvihills.) Jim, as a freshman in high school, set an Oregon state record in the AA, to win the state meet. He went on to U of Oregon. At that time, the National meet was 2 days long, with 12 events the first day - compulsory and optionals. The second day was finals - 18 events if you made it through on all events. As a freshman, Jim was on his18th event in two days, and on the HB dismount, he landed stiff legged and tore his knee up. At Pac 10's as a sophomore, he was 2nd AA, and 1st PB and went to Nationals, but didn't do well. That summer he fell on a fence while working for his dad, and tore his other ACL, which ended his career. Dick Foxal considers Jim to have been one of the best gymnasts in the NW.

Loan, Brad  1967-1968 turned out with the girls team under Maggie Trimble at Auburn High, because there was no boys team. Brad graduated in 1972 from WSU - competed on men's team from 1968-1972. 3rd on vault at Pac 8's. 1975-1976 coached girl's team at WSU. Owner of Puget Sound Gymnastics club which produced elite gymnasts such as Roni Barrios, Yumi Mordre, Kelly Baker, Catherine Williams, Julie Mountford, Christi Clifford, Heidi Prosser, Onnie Willis, Stephanie Roy, Emily Pritchard, Tammara Diles, Malinda Wong (first full-in double back in WA. 1982), Melissa Griffeth, Marylin Anderson, Cheryl Chambliss and Elli Moulding Jr. and Mike Meyers. His best gymnast was Yumi Mordre who was the 2nd alternate to the 1984 Olympic team. USAG WA Hall of Fame, 2006.

Lombardo, Ken  early gymnast at the "Y" in 1950's. UW gymnast.

Long, Jim   UW gymnast. Coach.

Luna, Daniel   UW gymnast, son of Sergio and Linda Rodella Luna. Represented US in the World Club Championships in Chile.

Luna, Sergio  1968 Ecuador Olympic Team member. Married Linda Rodella, father of six, including Daniel and Sergio.

Luna, Sergio Jr.  UW gymnast, son of Sergio and Linda Rodella Luna. 1998 Winter Cup Challenge.

Lufi, Dubi  WSU men's team gymnast (graduated Phi Beta Kappa). Israeli who was a World Games Competitor, 1970,1974, 1978 and 1983. All American 1974 and 1975 in Paralled Bars. Pacific-8 Conference Champ, 1975 in Parallel Bars. Pacific-8 conference "Scholar-Athlete" award 1975. Inland Empire Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association "Athlete of the Month" May 1974. Pacific Northwest AA Champ 1974,1975,1976, and 1978. He also competed in the 1979 and 1981 Worlds and was the first person to compete in six World Championships. Olympian, 1976 for Israel (and team qualifier in 1980). He averaged 9.23 for all events at the Olympic Trials. Dubi was the assistant coach at WSU 1975-1978.
Masters degree in 1977 from U. of Idaho. PhD. 1979 from WSU. Winner of many regional gymnastics championships and national AAU competitions. Nominated several times by his former WSUcoach, Bob Peavy, into the WSU Hall of Fame, which he was finally inducted into in 1989.(He is the only gymnast in the WSU Hall of Fame - coach Hubie Dunn was inducted in 2007.) Bob Peavy notes that Dubi was a "folk hero". Dubi went on to become an international judge (1985 World Championships in Montreal). National Technical Director of Gymnastics in Israel. And Head Coach at Wingate Institute in Israel. Dubi placed 33rd AA in the 1980 USDF International Invitational. Dubi is noted as oldest competing international gymnast who retired in 1984 at age 35.

Lyum, Matt  UW gymnast, team captain 1984. Competed club gymnastics in Hawaii under Rich Fonseca.

McClure, Brett  Born in Yakima in 1981. Hometown Mill Creek. Began gymnastics 1990. Years on Senior National Team, 19 -2002. Member of the 2001 World Championships Team that won silver medal. Pommel horse bronze medal at the 2001 Goodwill Games. He was 2nd AA, 1st PH, 3rd V, T3rd PB at 2000 Olympic Trials, Boston. 2002 and 2003 Worlds. Everett Herald newspaper 2003 Man of the Year in Sports. Member of the 2004 Olympic Silver Medal Team.

Minaker, Rod

Morales, Ignacio  UW men's team, coached by Mark Russo. He competed at the World Championships in 1991, 1993, and 1994, representing his native Bolivia.

Morrow, Scott   UW gymnast. Received the Frank Cumisky Award from USAG. Longtime regional Director.

Nissinen, Mauno  Native of Oulu, Finland. UW gymnast. Member of the Husky Gymnastics Club that won the National AAU championships. All American 1969. NCAA National All Around Champ in 1969, which were held at the UW. Competed in 1972 Olympics for Finland. UW Hall of Fame in 1991.

Oliver, Mark  UW Gymnast, 1990-94. JO Class 1 HB Champ. Three time USAG National Qualifier.(Including 1996 Winter Cup.) Mark Russo coached him at Washington Gymnastics Academy.

Ozora, Tomi From Japan. UW team. 1972 Pac 8 P.Bars Champ. Was assistant Husky coach a few years later.

Perrone, Frank  UW gymnast, coached by Dick Foxal.

Peters, Charlie  UW gymnast who toured with the Seattle Gymnastics Club in Asia in 1968.

Pugh, Lyle  One of the members on WSU's very first team. Lyle went on to be a successful girls high school coach, winning state in 1970 and 1971. He began teaching at Shadle Park High School in 1958 and immediately started a tumbling and gymnastic program for boys and girls. Because there was no competition, he was limited to exhibition performance. Later, other area high schools developed teams and held competitions. His school shop made his balance beam and vaulting box. Floor exercise was performed on the wood floor and there was no padding on the beams and a wood beat board was used in vaulting. Lyle retired from the coaching of girls gymnastics in 1983 and was inducted into the inaugural WSGCA (Washington Coaches Association ) Hall of Fame in 1986.

Rapp, Joe   Kent-Meridian gymnast coached by Gunter Bohrmann. Placed 1st at High School State in Vault, FX, High Bar, and P-Bars in 1978. Cal State Fullerton gymnast. Went on to be the head coach at Hawaiian Twisters. Region 2 RECC 2007-present.

Sanders, Chuck  High school gymnast in Everett. (Cascade?) UW gymnast. 1971 Conference champ on Pommel Horse. Qualified for NCAA championships.

Shirley, Dale  Turned out at Seattle YMCA. Graduated from Highline High School in 1958 - was on their boys team. Went to Eastern Washington for one year on scholarship. Came back to Seattle University and turned out with Ev Woodward. As grad assistant at the U of Oklahoma, got his first job coaching there with Ken Kennerude. With Oklahoma Twisters for 1 year, then Renton High. Coached Seattle Gym Club 1960-65 with George Lewis. Coached at the Seattle "Y" from 1965-71. Went on tour to Middle East and Africa in 1966. Co-coach of the 1966 Women's World Games Team, and coach of Carolyn Pingatore, Junior Women's All-Around Champion 1967, and the 1968 Women's Champion. Taught at Renton High and had boys' team for 4 years. Won the 1968 state meet. Had a club on Mercer Island and then Bellevue Academy with Carol Elsner 1973-83. He also coached UW Women's team 1975-'79. He went down to Eugene and was a club coach, then to Santa Rosa Club until 1984. Back to Seattle and taught in the Renton District. Inducted into the first USAG WA. Hall of Fame 2002.

Smith, Chris  UW men's team. Competed at the Pan Am Games in 1987.

Smith, John  Started gymnastics under Coach Cartwright at Mann Jr. High, Tacoma, 1969, then under Evan Steensland 1971-'74 at Lakes High School. Attended summer camps at Sammamish High where he was coached by Jerry Penny, Bob Peavey, Eric Hughes, Jim Sullivan, and Gunter Bohrmann. Walked onto WSU in 1974 as floor and tramp specialist. Performed quadruple twisting back salto in 1973 on tramp. AAU Tumbling and Tramp Regional Silver Medalist. USMC in 1975. Coached from 1976-1978 at Leeward Gymnastics in Pearl Harbor. Medalist on floor and tramp in the 1978 Honolulu Gym Fest. 1978 Head Coach of Punahou High School boys team, and assistant coach for girls team. 1979 Head Coach Lakes High School and Mann Jr. High Girls Teams. 1980 coached at Camp Waskowitz . WSU assistant coach to Al Sanders fall of 1980. 1980-81 coach at Kokokahi Gymnastics, HI. 1981 opened NASA Gymnastics. In the 1990's, trained National Elite Tiffani White. 1990 Goodwill Games Linguistics Coordinator. Between 1993 and 2003, John had nine gymnasts make the TOPS National Team -the most in WA State to date. USAG WA Hall of Fame, 2006.

Smith, Mac  UW gymnast under Jim Holt. Qualified for USA Championships in 1985. ONLY 4-time team captain for UW, either men or women.

Sullivan, Jim  Gymnastics competitor at 1953. Started teaching in Bothell in 1958. '59-'60 had boys team and won a boys' state meet. Gym Kamp (Camp Waskowitz) instructor. Coached girls' team for 14 years. Retired from coaching in 1987. He was on the first WSU team that lettered and his son was on the last team to letter at WSU before their program was dropped.

Thorson, Tommy  Went to Seattle "Y". Learned hand balancing with George Lewis. Started coaching girls in 1962 with George at the "Y".

Tibbitts, Thorne  1955 high school grad. WSU four year letter winner and team captain 1959. Coached at WSU by Hubie Dunn. 1957 PNWAAU Horizontal Bar champ. Qualified for 1959 NCAA Championships in Horizontal Bar. Three years assistant coach at WSU. Coach at Eastern Washington U 1960-'65; took Jack Benson to NCAA championships in 1962. Thorne went on to the U of Oregon. He and Yoshi Hatano had a gym team made up of high school dropouts in Astoria, Oregon. He did this for fifteen months and then went to the U of Nevada in Reno, taught PE and coached men's gymnastics and intermurals. While in Reno, he coached Rusty Mitchell who was an Olympian in 1964. He was then hired by the U of New Mexico in Albuquerque while he worked on his doctorate. Dr. Jack Leighton at Eastern then hired him to take over the Park and Rec. Administration Program in Cheney. He went into the real estate business in 1976.

Umeshita, Hide  From Japan. Issaquah High School for 1 year, then UW. Was on the UW 1968 team that won National AAU title. 2nd AA to Yoshi Hayasaki at the Conference Championships, and was 2nd AA at the NCAA championships. All American 1970 - 3rd AA at Nationals.

Waichiro, Miki  born 10/21/47. Gymnast in 1961 in high school in Kewanoe High, Japan, and at Nihon University in Tokyo. Trained under Endo at Nihon University, and was considered one of the best technicians in the US in the 1970's. He was the assistant coach at WSU in the 1970's. Started a recreational gymnastics program at WSU in 1971. Coached at Jerry Penney's Christmas Camps in the 1970's. Went on to coach in California.

Wejmar, Steve  Kent-Meridian HS. Washington All-Around State Champ 1975 coached by Gunter Bohrmann. Pac-8 Vault Champ and NCAA Champ on Vault in 1977 as a freshman. Because of his win, his hometown of Kent declared April 5, 1977 as Steve Wejmar Day! Pac-10 Vault Champ in 1978 and undefeated in the regular season. All American.

Williams, Mike  UW Men's Team member, who qualified for the US National team in 1992. He was also the only American in history to do a triple back on the floor in competition, at US Nationals in 1993.

Yingling, John  4 year UW gymnast. Coached at Seattle U when they had women's gymnastics.

Young, Jim

Young Ron  UW gymnast. Coached at Metropolitan Gymnastics. West Seattle High School Girl's Gymnastics Coach 2005-2007.

Welborn, Ryan  UW gymnast in late 1990's from Idaho. Elite gymnast - 1997 US Championships-14th on vault and 1998 Winter Cup Challenge-13th on PB and HB.

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