Caleb Shinkle had a simple explanation for his sudden breakthrough performance in last year’s Indiana State Gymnastics Championships.
Shinkle, who had never won a gold medal at the state competition, claimed the Level 6 12-and-over vault, parallel bars and high bar on his way to taking the all-around title last year.
“I think I just kind of got tired of losing and started working hard,” said Shinkle, now an eighth-grader at Northside Middle School. “Eventually, I got better at everything and cleaned everything up.”
But Shinkle’s championships didn’t end last year. He moved up to Level 7 this season and won the still rings, high bar and all-around at the state competition in Charlestown. He also finished second on the vault, third on the parallel bars, fourth on the pommel horse and sixth on the floor.
In a way, this year’s titles were more satisfying for Shinkle since a coaching transition at Indiana Gymnastics Center at the beginning of the season led to a little bit of a rough start. New coach Conner Wilder came on in November after the former owner/coach sold the gym.
“The level (7) is a lot more difficult, and the season started off a lot tougher that it did last year,” Shinkle said.
Normally, Shinkle practices 13 1/2 hours a week at IGC in Franklin. He works out for 3 1/2 hours on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and three hours on Saturday.
Shinkle started out at Jody’s Gymnastic Zone in Columbus, then after it closed, went to Girls Inc. in Seymour for a year-and-a-half. He has been at IGC about 2 1/2 years.
“It’s remarkable how he’s progressed,” said his father, David Shinkle. “He’s steady every year and keeps the skills building. He’s getting a lot stronger every day.”
David took Caleb and his twin brother Jacob to an open gym when they were 7 or 8, and they became hooked. Jacob has since given up gymnastics to focus on tennis.
Caleb Shinkle played soccer, baseball, basketball and a little golf and even did some diving growing up before giving them up to focus on gymnastics.
“I got more nervous when I watched him dive a few years ago when he took a diving class,” David said. “I guess it’s because (gymnastics floors are) so padded. They build you gradually up so you build one skill and master it before you do something more complicated.”
This weekend, Caleb will compete in the Region 5 meet in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Since there are no nationals for Level 7 and below, the meet will mark the end of his season.
Next year, Caleb plans to move up to Level 8, where skills are optional instead of compulsory.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I’ll be able to do skills that I want to do, rather than being forced to do. I like being able to do cool skills.”
Name: Caleb Shinkle
School: Northside Middle School
Family: Parents David and Shawna, twin brother Jacob, older siblings Matt and Erika
Hobbies: Playing video games with friends, working sound board for kids service and helping in preschool rooms at First Christian Church
Gymnastics accomplishments: Won Level 6 12-and-over vault, parallel bars, high bar and all-around in 2016 state championships; won Level 7 12-and-over still rings, high bar and all-around in 2017 state championships