Seen & Heard: Rochester family has a line on yo-yoing, rowing

Josiah Tuohimaa recently took first place in his event at the Minnsota State Yo-Yo Contest.

Life is certainly full of ups and downs, and backs and forths, for one Rochester family.

Josiah Tuohimaa recently won his event at the Minnesota State Yo-Yo Contest April 12 in Eden Prairie. Josiah took home a coveted trophy and prize money, finishing first in the Amateur Division, age 17 and under category . The category had 14 competitors. Josiah won by a wide margin over his next-closest competitor, with 89 points, compared to 69 points.

Josiah's winning routine was freestyle, in which players use a counterweight gripped in the hand instead of tying the string to a finger, and was 60 seconds long.

"I compiled a bunch of tricks that I thought would mix in with the song and musical cues well," Josiah said. "The song was 'Church Clap' by KB featuring Lecrae — an upbeat song to grab the crowd's attention."

Josiah, an eighth-grader at Rochester Central Lutheran School, has only been yo-yoing for a few years now. His interest grew after a national yo-yo master, Dazzling Dave Schultz, came to RCLS to demonstrate his talents. Josiah has been learning, practicing and competing ever since. His tricks often draw crowds of spectators.


Josiah now is preparing for the 2014 Midwest Regional Yo-Yo Championships, which will be held next month at the Mall of America. Good luck, Josiah!

Yo-yoing isn't the only thing Josiah competes in. When I interviewed him, it was only hours after he had returned from the Midwest Junior Rowing Championship, where he competed as part of the Rochester Rowing Club.

Meanwhile, Josiah's older sister, Jarika Tuohimaa, a freshman at Seattle Pacific University, competes in rowing at an even higher level. Her team at Seattle Pacific just wrapped up its season, finishing in third place at the Northwest Collegiate Rowing Conference Regatta in Oklahoma City on May 17.

Jarika was recruited to join her team. She graduated from Schaffer Academy in 2013 and only started rowing in the spring of her junior year, also as part of the Rochester Rowing Club, so this is just her third year of rowing.

"I have always been athletic, and I'm pretty tall and strong, so I was just pretty good at rowing right away and really enjoyed it," Jarika said.

In the NCRC Regatta, the last of nine competitions this year, Jarika rowed on a four-person boat (plus the coxswain) for 2,000 meters, covering the course in 7 minutes and 33 seconds, just 35 seconds behind the winner.

It takes a lot of rowing to be able to make times like that. A typical week for Jarika includes 3-1/2 to four hours of rowing per day, six days a week, on top of going to classes. She's majoring in dietetics.

Which of the siblings would win in a race? Jarika said, "Right now, I would win — but he's catching up to me in height, so he should be passing me soon."

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