Regional Championships, Las Vegas March 2016

Champion named, Thomas takes three State titles.


AUBURN – Zeph Thomas, a 13-year-old senior gymnast from Auburn, is both teammate and mentor for a young, dynamic team from Auburn Gymnastics Center, so when he walked into the 2016 Men’s State Championship it was his turn to show the juniors how a champion handles a big meet.


Zeph Thomas is lifted up to start his ring routine at the the 2016 Men's State Championship.

“He came into State Championships laughing, playful and relaxed, all qualities of an athlete that doesn’t wonder if he has what it takes – he knows it,” Coach, Natalie Otis said. “I honestly have never been at a competition where my athlete hit routine, after routine, after routine – it was amazing.”

In the beginning the cards weren’t stacked in his favor, Thomas started the competition on the pommel horse - where his coach said many fall and end their chances there. Two of his own teammates, who were in an earlier gymnastics completion that day, had battled on the pommel horse and lost.

“If you have any doubts – it will come out on pommel horse,” Otis said. “The first meet of the day we ended with both guys making pretty big errors and it was crushing to them.”

Thomas was the very first competitor of his meet and delivered a fast-paced and exacting performance for the highest score of the day and just the start he needed the coach explained.

“Sometimes you wake up the day of a big sporting event and are just like – yea, I got this,” Otis said. “He nailed that first routine and there was really no stopping him.”

Thomas went on to compete on the rings, vault, parallel bars and then came the high bar – his best event of the season.

“What did this judge say I had to fix?” Thomas asked his coach, having had the same judge a few weeks ago during the regular season and coming up short on his score.

“He said to fix your shape on the top of the swing,” the coach answered.

Thomas was able to make the changes and ace yet another routine for a high-score for the day to win 1st place on both the high bar and the pommel horse as well as the all-around.

The icing on the cake was Thomas earned a coveted spot on the Northern California All-Star Team. They take the top five competitors from the meet regardless of age division or placement and form a team that will represent California at the Regional Championships in April.

“It really is so great. Auburn Gymnastics Center this year went from never having a men’s gymnast on the All Star Team to having one at level 5 with Kannon Rector earning a spot last week to one at Level 6 this weekend,” Otis said. “Losing can be contagious, but winning can be even more.”

Thomas’ teammate, Christopher Otis competed in the earlier session in a younger division and clinched a spot at Regional Championships as well as a medal on high-bar and on the rings and Beck Thomas ended his season with a stellar vault and parallel-bar routine.

Across town, the girls’ senior team came up big at their State Championship meet in Roseville, Calif. with both Emily Esteban and Ally Osborn delivering solid performances and qualifying to Regional Championships in Las Vegas in April.

Esteban came up 4th on floor and 5th on bars and in the all-around while Osborn was 6th on vault with a 9.1 and top 10 in the all-around.

The teams will continue on with additional State and Regional Championships going into April.



Auburn Gymnastics Center specializes in teaching gymnastics to children of all ages and abilities and features a special needs gymnastics program that offers scholarships.

Call (530) 823-2031 or go to for more information.