Catty lad is a state gymnastics champion
Johnny Loftus took first place in the USA Gymnastics Pennsylvania Championships held on March 25 in Harrisburg. The 11-year-old Catasauqua boy won a first-place medal in the all-around competition at level S. His team won first place at the event. He has brought home 34 medals this year.
In the men’s gymnastics division, there are six events: floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar.
“Of all of them, I like the pommel horse the best,” Johnny said.
He attends Catasauqua Middle School, but the fifth-grader spends most of his free time hanging around the Parkettes Gym in Allentown.
“I started coming here when I was 3 and I really liked the sport,” he says. “It takes a lot of work and it’s pretty easy to get bruised-up, but I do enjoy it.”
His mother, Nicole Loftus, is supportive.
“I think he really gained a lot of confidence when he won the state meet last week,” she said.
“The two best meets so far this year were the Arnold Cup and the Navy Open,” he said.
The Arnold Cup is sponsored by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Navy Open was held at the Naval Academy.
The next event on the schedule is the Area 7 Regionals April 8 in Lincroft, N.J. This contest brings the best from the Northeast. Gymnasts from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and West Virginia compete against top gymnasts from Pennsylvania for top prizes.
“Gymnastics doesn’t get the same recognition as some of the other sports…these kids are very strong and agile,” Nicole Loftus said.
Johnny is coached by George Petru.
This weekend, the Parkettes gym was alive with young athletes. The coaches are adept at building championship character into their athletes.
The caliber of athletes who go on to compete on the national and world stage from this organization is legendary.
“We get to see many of the best gymnasts practicing for competition,” Johnny said. “One of my favorites is Alex Frank, a level 10 that comes to the Parkettes.”