SIMI VALLEY : Kids Hop to It in Test of Speed and Stamina

Ashley Furbershaw just did it.

The 12-year-old Simi Valley girl on Friday took first place at the Jump Rope Challenge at the Simi Valley Boys & Girls Club.

A group of about 30 raucous youngsters ages 6 to 12 jumped with joy for the prizes which included Frisbees, shirts and water bottles bearing the Nike logo, the contest sponsor. Prizes were awarded to the top three finishers in two categories: ages 10 to 12 and 9 years and younger.

To win the event, youngsters had to get high scores in endurance and speed competitions.

The endurance segment involved three minutes of continuous jumping. With an initial score of 300, participants lost points every time they tripped on the rope. Competitors were judged by their peers and timed by club counselors.

"It's very tiring," Ashley said after completing the endurance challenge with a perfect score. "I'll probably win because I won at the practices before."

In the speed challenge, kids jumped as fast as they could for one minute. They got one point for each jump.

With intense concentration, her blond hair covering her face, Ashley skipped over the rope 114 times in one minute.

Diana Christensen, 9, took first place in the 9-and-under category.

She proudly skipped while crisscrossing her arms during the endurance event, with only a minimum of misses.

"I learned to crisscross by myself," Diana said. "I could have done better but I was doing the crisscross."

Diana said she only goes to the Boys & Girls Club during the holidays. Many of the kids participate in club events throughout the year.

Bidemi Busari, 9, was among the most enthusiastic challengers. Twirling the rope at a blinding speed, he came close to two jumps a second during his minute-long competition.

The contest did not seem to slow him down. Running around after the event, he quizzed adults about the anticipated arrival of a gift-bearing Santa Claus at the club.

Eager to find out who won, the youngsters rushed club counselor Danny Maass, who was adding up the scores. Danny, 17, has run the event in previous years.

"It works really well," he said. "It attracts a lot of kids to the club."

Judging by the cheers and laughter, the youngsters enjoyed the competition. Each was given a pen marked with the Nike logo, just for joining in the fun.

The challenge, co-sponsored by Nike Inc. and the Boys & Girls Club of America, is held in clubs throughout the country to promote physical activities.

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