Anthony Gatto, 1986 U.S. Nationals Champion
Anthony Gatto came to San Jose to win, and did so big time. He scored the highest point total of any U.S. Nationals winner and did some of the most difficult tricks seen in that event.
The 13-year-old Las Vegas resident and professional juggler opened with balls, doing five with back crosses and overhead throws. He did a seven ball cascade with perfect sequential toss back into a net held by his father, Nick. Working with rings, Anthony did a pirouette and more than a dozen pancake throws with five. With a coyote prop balanced on his head, he juggled eight rings and flipped them up to be caught on the coyote's nose and hand.
He cascaded seven rings, pulled down four and then worked them back into the pattern, all without interruption. He finished with clubs, doing five with one balanced on his head. He tipped the balanced club over into a six club juggle.
From his opening trick there was no doubt in the audience of Gatto's superior juggling ability. His appearance in handsome long pants and long-sleeved shirt instead of the shorts and sport shirt he used to wear conveyed a message of professionalism.
With Gatto's act stronger than ever, people were left wondering what his eventual accomplishments will be.
Fans flabbergasted by his juggling were humored by Gatto as well when he was asked by championships director Holly Greeley to say a few words to the audience after the competition ended. Anthony approached the microphone and in a perfect Donald Duck squeak said four words, "Thank you very much!" He was awarded $1,000 and a trophy at the Awards Banquet for his victory. He was also featured in an August 18 "Sports Illustrated" article
Scott Burton finished behind Gatto in second place, "punching in" for seven minutes of hard juggling. Burton lay on the floor and juggled three balls all around his legs and body, and did five while lying on his back. He also did boxes and up to five clubs.
Benji Hill, a winner in last year's Team Championship, appeared solo in San Jose and finished third. He performed his trademark four ball solid shoulder throws flawlessly, as well as five rings with color changes and a pirouette. He flashed and pulled down seven rings, then finished strong with three, four and five club work.
Other competitors and highlights were:
Total Tech Perf time home town 1. Anthony Gatto 94.83 29.00 27.90 Las Vegas, NV 2. Scott Burton 73.10 18.36 25.50 Minneapolis, MN 3. Benji Hill 69.88 20.48 21.75 -.5 Thomasville, NC 4. Larry Merlo 68.92 15.65 25.70 San Jose, CA 5. John Gilkey 68.25 16.65 24.30 Los Altos, CA 6. Jerome Ellis 67.85 17.91 22.80 Las Vegas, NV 7. Dan Menendez 64.55 16.58 22.15 Aptos, CA 8. Dan Bennett 57.72 15.68 19.25 -.5 Ogden, UT 9. Bob Nickerson 57.65 13.64 21.25 -.5 Gallitzin, PA
Technical judges: Todd Smith, Rich DiGiovanna, Paul Bachman, Michael Kass, Alan Howard. Performance judges: Alexis Lee, Scott Meltzer, Ben Decker, Karen Grant, Mardene Rubio.