On Saturday we got to go down to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs with Leighton. Originally he was suppose to have a meet down there but the meet filled up super quick and his team didn’t make it in. We heard that there was a college meet and decided to head down anyway and at least see that. It was fun to just do something with him. The younger 4 kids stayed with my parents for the night. We drove down there and got there early so we picked up some food for dinner and then went and walked around the visitor center and around the grounds a little bit. The chapel is undergoing renovations so we couldn’t visit that but we still enjoyed walking around even though it was super chilly.
After that we found out where we were suppose to park after getting a little turned around and ate our dinner and then headed in to the meet. We found seats early and checked out the roster of who all was competing. It was the Air Force, Nebraska, Washington, Minnesota, and Oklahoma. There were also some individuals from the Olympic Training Center and as we took our seats Leighton recognized Adrian De Los Angeles and Eddie Penev from the clinic he took back in November. On the roster it said that Sam Mikulak was also going to compete but we looked around and didn’t see him. Eventually Leighton said that he wanted to sit on the other side closer to the Pommel Horse because that is his favorite event. We figured out how to get over there and grabbed some good seats and settled in to watch the meet.
A couple sat down next to Clint and they started talking and turns out they were the parents of one of the athletes at the Olympic Training Center, Robert Neff. He was last years NCAA high bar champion and on the Stanford team that won the NCAA team championship. They were really sweet and we had fun talking to them and cheering with them throughout the meet. They told us how their son had looked up to a guy from Germany who was the world high bar champion for years when he was growing up and now he was working as a coach for one of the other teams there that night and Robert got to meet him and talk with him. They told us that Sam Mikulak pulled something at practice this past week and decided to sit the meet out. Those that finished in the top 3 of each event qualified for the Winter cup next Month in Las Vegas which is a big deal. We got to watch Eddie Penev qualify in both evens, floor and vault, that he competed in and then also watch Robert Neff win 1st in the All Around. At the end of the meet they took Leighton over to meet their son which was really cool and now Leighton has another guy to watch and follow and cheer on. Shortly after that Sam Mikulak (US national champ 6 times) walked over and Leighton went over to say hi and he remembered Leighton from the clinic and asked him how long it took his hands to heal after practicing all the kips. They got a photo together and we watched the awards ceremony and then headed out to drive home. On our way out of the gym, Sam Mikulak gave Leighton a fist bump and said “See ya later man”. Leighton walked out with a huge grin on his face. It’s not that often that kids get to meet their heroes and have some pretty cool interactions with them. And it was really fun for him to see some of the guys that ran the clinic and trained him to then compete just a few feet from him.