Marcell Purham started skateboarding in South Elgin about seven years ago to stay out of trouble. He and an Elgin friend used to go to the skate park every day after school and hone their skills.
He later moved to Wheaton, right across the street from another skate park, where he continued to improve.
All that work paid off Sunday when Purham, 20, took first place in the advanced skill level and best trick categories of the Geneva Park District's skateboard competition.
"I'm always working on new tricks, perfecting my tricks and progressing," he said.
Purham was among about 25 kids and adults taking part in the event at the South Street skate park. Skaters competed in small groups based on their skill, getting five minutes to show their best tricks without the high pressure of a solitary run.
Shawn Turner, of SMLTWN SK8 Shop in DeKalb, judged the contest. He said the free skate makes it more fun for beginners.
"We focus on what they're landing, not what they're not landing," Turner said.
This is the third contest the skate shop has run this summer and it had the highest turnout. Families and friends of the skaters -- as well as interested neighbors -- lined the fenced-in park to watch the tricks as well as the falls of the competitors.
Six-year-old Ryan King, of Geneva, has only been skating for about two weeks but still decided to try the contest. His parents bring him to the skate park almost every day to practice and learn from the older, more experienced skaters.
Ryan wore knee and elbow pads along with a helmet for the competition but sported some scrapes and bruises from falls at home. He doesn't know anyone else who skates but got his board -- which stands almost as tall as he does -- as a gift.
"I just wanted to try it out," he said.
Skaters were judged on consistency of their skill, difficulty and uniqueness of their tricks and style.
Matt Netrefa, recreation coordinator for the park district, said with so many skaters in the community the competition is a good one to continue.
"We have this great facility and we want to put it to the best use possible," Netrefa said.