In early April, Frederick Krebs was in Iowa City to see the Big Ten Conference men’s gymnastics championships.
Penn State won the team title, while the Minnesota Gophers finished fifth.
Krebs, a 14-year-old at Kellogg Middle School, aspires to compete on the same stage in a few years.
“Competing for the Gophers someday would be my dream,” he said. “It was pretty cool to watch them. I think they inspired me.”
You see, Krebs wasn’t in Iowa City merely as a spectator. The next day he went out and took a big step toward making his college gymnastics dreams a reality. He competed in the 2019 Region 4 Men’s Gymnastics Championships at the University of Iowa Fieldhouse, finishing fifth all-around in the 14-year-old division.
That performance earned Krebs a trip to the 2019 Men’s Junior Olympic National Championships in Reno, Nev., April 30-May 5.
“I’m pretty excited,” he said last week during a short break from his training at the Rochester Gymnastics Academy. “I haven’t done an event like this before, so it’ll be a new experience for me.”
Vali Frunzac, who has coached Krebs for 5 1/2 years, said he’s an exceptional athlete.
“He’s one of the best, one of the most talented gymnasts I’ve coached, and also one of the hardest-working,” Frunzac said. “He’s willing to do everything necessary to make a name for himself in gymnastics. He just keeps trying, doing the skills over and over again until he’s able to do them very well.”
Krebs will compete in all six events at the Reno event — parallel bars, floor, high bar, rings, vault and pommel horse — and Frunzac said his best shot at a medal will be on rings.
“Gymnastics is an upper-body sport, and Frederick is very, very strong in his upper-body,” Frunzac said. “He’s got a top routine on rings, so if he has a good day, then he probably can win a medal. He also might have a chance to medal on the high bar.”
Krebs had to beat out nearly 100 competitors in Iowa City. In Reno, he’ll compete against 36 of the nation’s best young male gymnasts, and he agrees that rings is where he’s most likely to bring home some hardware.
“I like that you have to be strong to do rings well, and I’m pretty strong,” he said. “I’d like to win a medal on rings, but really, if I could win a medal in anything I’d be pretty happy.”
Krebs does not come from a family of gymnasts, but he’s been doing it since he was 3 years old.
“I didn’t necessarily choose gymnastics,” he said. “My parents put me in it, and I just ended up liking it a lot.”
Krebs is one of 25 boys who currently train with Frunzac at ROGA. Frunzac admits that men’s gymnastics is currently not as popular as women’s, which has reduced some future opportunities for boys.
“Some universities have ended their men’s gymnastics programs because they don’t make money,” he said. “That is sad for us coaches, because the young athletes dream of competing in college. But I think boys gymnastics is doing very well right now, and I think it’s important for USA Gymnastics to give kids something to dream of.”