Mason senior takes a tumble, and lands on his feet

Brandon Krzynefski, a civil and infrastructure engineering major, was part of the U.S. team that took third place at the 2019 Trampoline and Tumbling World Championships in Tokyo. Photo provided.

So, there was Brandon Krzynefski in Tokyo, Japan, for the 2019 Trampoline and Tumbling World Championships, taking a tour of the Tokyo Tower, the second-tallest structure in the country.

It was a fitting juxtaposition.

Krzynefski, a George Mason University senior, fulfilled an ambition in November, when he earned a bronze medal as part of the United States’ power tumbling team, which won third place at the championship in Tokyo. And as a civil and infrastructure engineering major, his tour of the 1,092-foot communications and observation tower was also an educational high point.

“Really indescribable,” Krzynefski said of the entire experience.

Krzynefski has been tumbling since he was about 5 years old, when his parents—desperate, he said, to curb his “inner craziness as a kid”—sent him to a summer camp.

We’re not talking simple summersaults and cartwheels in the backyard. The form of tumbling in which Krzynefski participates is a fast, aggressive, explosive exercise in which he sprints down a 120-foot runway and hand-springs, twists and back-flips his way to what he hopes is a pinpoint landing.

This video will give you an idea.

It was a testament to his ability and fortitude that Krzynefski earned a bronze medal in Tokyo, his first competition after breaking his left ankle so severely at nationals in July that four screws and a titanium plate holds the joint together.

“To win a bronze after all that, it is super rewarding,” he said

Krzynefski was the U.S and world power tumbling champion in the 15-16 age group in 2013, and the U.S. national champion in 2016 and 2018.

Even his Mason professors got caught up in the recent excitement.

“We have proudly talked about Brandon in class,” said Gurim Urgessa, associate professor in the Sid and Reva Dewberry Department of Civil, Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering. “His classmates were delighted. They gave him a big round of applause in class, both before his departure to Japan and after returning back as a bronze medalist.”

Now, though, Krzynefski, has some decisions to make. He said he will step back from his sport for the time being to concentrate on his coursework and allow his ankle to fully heal. Once he graduates in December 2020, he will decide whether or not to return to competition.

Whatever his choice, Krzynefski said his Mason experience has been positive. He called his professors in the Volgenau School of Engineering “amazing,” and spoke excitedly about the opportunities for networking and finding interesting extracurricular activities, such as the steel bridge competition team he was part of as a junior.

“It was a perfect fit for me to stay here and be able to get my education, and still train at the same time,” said Krzynefski, who trains at Capital Gymnastics in Burke, Virginia.

Quite a journey from the days Krzynefski’s parents would find their rambunctious 3-year-old son on top of refrigerator without a clear plan of how to get down.

Brandon Krzynefski (second from right) with his U.S. bronze medal teammates. Photo provided.