Sports Zone

Gymnast’s routine: Pushing the limits

SPRINGFIELD – Jaxon Eastwood says his favorite event is the pommel horse.

Hmmm. That’s a little odd to hear. Because the local gymnastics star is all about high bars.


Last Friday, while representing the National Academy of Artistic Gymnastics in the 33-team Emerald Team Challenge at Bob Keefer Center, Eastwood spent his usual amount of time on the podium, taking third place in pommel and sixth place in all-around. He also won a special Emmy award, a good spirit honor presented by the judges after Eastwood fell on one of his routines. 

“After I fell I just got up and didn’t act all bummed out about it,” he said. 

That’s the thing about Eastwood. If he comes up short, it only motivates him to keep getting better. Starting around age 8, that kind of drive and inspiration earned him three straight Oregon State All-Around titles and back-to-back five-state Regional All-Around titles. In 2023, he won Regionals on the pommel horse in Alaska, and he won the parallel bars at the Jazz Invitational in New Orleans. He was named the 2017 Oregon Compulsory Gymnast of the Year, an award based on character, volunteering, and willingness to help other athletes.

In other words, he’s the ultimate team player.  

Now 18, Eastwood is the lone graduating senior on the NAAG team, representing the Eugene-Springfield area. He had a chance to compete for Temple University after receiving a $56,000 scholarship offer – a rarity in men’s gymnastics, a sport not funded by most schools.

Instead, he will attend Shoreline Community College in Seattle this fall, then transfer to the University of Washington for his final two years. 

“I’m not from the East Coast,” Eastwood said. “If you told me I could have half of my tuition paid before I signed with Shoreline, I still would have turned it down. I love it out here.”

KALLIE HANSEL-TENNES / THE CHRONICLE. Eastwood competing in the floor routine.

Daniel Eastwood, Jaxon’s father, said his son was pleasantly surprised to hear what the Washington coaches were saying about him. Jaxon wasn’t sure if he was good enough to make the team. 

“He talked to the coaches at Washington, and they said they thought he was dead-set on going to Temple, and they’d be thrilled to have him,” Daniel said.

Jaxon is the only child for Daniel and his wife, Brittany. Although they have a Eugene address, they live off of Seavey Loop Road in the Goshen area near Mount Pisgah. Jaxon attends Oregon Charter Academy, an online school, where he has also taken the gold medal, in a manner of speaking. 

“He is an outstanding individual – not just at gymnastics,” his dad said. “He’s a national high school academic award winner. He gets straight A’s. I was a national mathematics award winner myself. We’ve never helped him with homework. I would say, ‘I can help you with your math,’ and he’s like, ‘I’ll let you know if I need your help.’ 

“When he was 5, I thought he was going to be a professional skateboarder or snowboarder. Then one day he went to a gymnastics class and he came out all excited and said he was going to be a gymnast and he was going to do this forever. We thought it was just a fad. 

“And he’s been doing it ever since.” 

Now that he’s getting closer to beginning his collegiate career, Eastwood says he wants to get his degree in Ecology & Wildlife Biodiversity.

“I’ve been doing gymnastics for 10 years now, so I hope to do that for as long as I can,” Eastwood said. “But as far as careers go, I always like animals, and wildfires here have gotten progressively worse and I might want to do something professionally to help protect our wildlife.”

Eastwood has always been very headstrong and committed to his beliefs, he said. 

“My parents have never forced me to do anything and I gained that independence through them as well as having other people thinking they know what’s best for me,” Eastwood said. “Only I know what’s best for me.” 

Part of the appeal of living in Seattle is the music scene, and Jaxon – a big fan of Alice In Chains, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam – would love to be involved somehow, some way. 

“Gymnastics is always going to be my No. 1 goal, but if I have an opportunity to play music, that would be great,” Eastwood said. 

KALLIE HANSEL-TENNES / THE CHRONICLE. Eastwood on the parallel bars.

Before college, there are a few invitational meets remaining – and of course there’s the USA National Championships in Daytona Beach, Fla., in May. 

Eastwood hopes he can finish off the year healthy. He’s had a rash of injuries lately, including a badly bruised left pinkie knuckle, a back injury that forces him to wear a belt for support all the time now, and a broken fifth metatarsal in right foot last year.

He still competed in the pommel horse with a broken foot – and won. 

“It was a 14-hour day for us at Regionals when he had the broken foot,” Daniel recalled. “We drove to Everett, Wash., so he could compete for 45 seconds, and he still had the hard post-op boot that you can Velcro and take off, and all the other parents said, ‘You guys drove all the way to Everett, Wash., just to watch everyone compete?’ I said, ‘He’s here to compete in pommel horse.’ At that point he had been dominating in pommel, so people thought they had a chance to win because he’s injured. Then he wore it all the way up to saluting the judge, then won first place in pommel. 

“I joked with him that it’s a long walk home from Everett, and he said, ‘Don’t jinx me.’ And I was like, ‘Have you ever thought about hitting your foot on the pommel horse?’  ‘What is wrong with you? Don’t say that.’ And then he took first place. It was pretty impressive.”

Always raising the bar just a little higher. 



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