The Juneau Jumpers' 2008 season climaxed on June 27-29 with the USA National Jump Rope Championships in Orlando, Fla.
Five seasoned jumpers surprised even themselves at their final amateur competition after placing third overall as a team and setting several other personal records along the way.
"We did way better than we have ever done at nationals," Isabel Bush said. "We have been there in the past and been disappointed, but this year we made it to the championship stage in seven out of our 10 events."
A relatively unknown team before the competition, the Juneau Jumpers nailed its two double dutch pairs freestyle routines in the age specific preliminaries, and then repeated their performances on center stage.
Bush, Talitha Wilson, Grayson Carlile and Iris Neary won the double dutch pairs freestyle 18-and-over title. The foursome then took second among all the age groups competiting in double dutch pairs freestyle.
"It was amazing for us to go there and hope to make it on stage for one event, but to come away with such accomplishments was great," Wilson said. "People didn't know who we were, and for them it was like, 'The Juneau Jumpers? Who's that? They are up there? That's so surprising.' They didn't know who we were."
The team stunned everyone with seven finals, or stage appearances, in 10 categories. To earn the right to perform on stage, an individual or team must place within the top 12 overall.
"That was huge for us, because we beat a lot of teams that we have looked up to for a lot of years," Bush said.
Several other events provided memorable moments for the team members.
In the one-minute speed competition, Hailey Summers placed third overall and jumped her way to a personal record of 170 jumps with one error. She followed that up by jumping 169 times with no errors in the finals for third place.
"I was pretty surprised because I had never jumped over 156 jumps in a minute before, and I kind of thought that the judges miscounted because it is rare to see a record jump by 14," Summers said.
Bush bested 450 jumps in three minutes en route to posting a new competition age-group record of 453 jumps.
Neary placed third in triple-unders with 119 continual reps without a mistake, and Carlile placed third in the overall men's points standings.
The jumpers gained a sense of satisfaction at the national competition because they performed best under pressure.
"The pressure to perform well can be overwhelming," Bush said. "Sometimes the pressure is so high that I believe we have a tendency to over-think the routines instead of just going out and letting our bodies do the routine. But this year, we just went out there and did it."