PREP GYMNASTICS: Trojan gymnasts hoping for better balance this yearWORTHINGTON — Joni Reitmeier wants to change tradition. Struggling the past few years to stay on the balance beam, Reitmeier’s Worthington gymnastics team is poised to make a change.
By: Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Joni Reitmeier wants to change tradition.
Struggling the past few years to stay on the balance beam, Reitmeier’s Worthington gymnastics team is poised to make a change.
“We have to just be mentally tough on the balance beam and we have to know that if we do fall off, we have to get back up there and be confident that we can finish strong,” the third-year head coach said. “We haven’t been able to do that in the last few years, so hopefully this year will be a change.”
Before the season started, Reitmeier had her team write down goals.
“We had girls write goals this year, like we do every year, and a lot of them had mentioned to stay on the balance beam,” Reitmeier said. “The girls are very aware of that, especially the ones that have been around for the last few years. I think they also have the mindset that we need to stay on the balance beam because this could be a deal breaker for us this year.”
A year ago, the Trojans struggled in the beam, but made up for the deductions with exceptional scores on the floor and vault.
“Floor has always been a strong event for Worthington and it still is,” Reitmeier said. “The girls are phenomenal tumblers and they are beautiful dancers. It will be a very strong event for us, along with the vault. Bars is always a struggle, but we have girls that are working really hard and if we can stay consistent on bars, it’s where the balance beam is going to come in. We have phenomenal talent on the balance beam, it’s just staying on. That’s been the Achilles heel. It’s just going to come down to mental toughness and I hope they have it this year.”
Reitmeier knows the change won’t come without hard work.
“The girls, I think, are determined that we’re going to do it,” the coach said. “We’re working our butts off and doing our best. We went to camp this year and we worked on that, we had some other coaches help us out at Power and Grace, try to learn different strategies and what we can do. I think it all comes back down to mentality.”
“We just need to be more mentally strong. We just need to know that if we do have a mess up, if we do fall, that we need to be strong, we need to get up and we need to finish it. That just comes down to being mentally tough. Hopefully, we have the skills this year to do that. It’s all up to them. As a coach, it’s so hard because all you can do is stand back and hope that you’ve done the best that you can and that the girls are going to be able to perform for you.”
The Trojans are coming off a successful season a year ago, where they finished second in a very competitive conference.
“We were second in the conference last year and we still pulled it out, having very strong floor and vault scores,” the coach said. “Obviously bars is kind of a weaker event, but we were always consistent on it, which was helpful.”
What Reitmeier has is a large roster, full of talented gymnasts.
“We had a big team last year and we only graduated one senior,” the coach said. “We kept our roster and we have a couple of new girls.
“We have three seniors this year and it’s nice to have their leadership. I’m really excited to see what those girls do and excited for them to move on in their future, too. They are excellent leaders, so I’m excited to have that this year.”
Seniors Sam Thuringer, Genevieve Bern and Ellen Dudley are the trio of leaders this year for the Trojans, but the experience doesn’t end there.
Kelsey Simons is the lone junior on the roster, but Worthington returns a nucleus of sophomores, including state participant Tara Svalland.
Anna Koepsell, Hanna Huisman, Kara Honius and Stephanie Jaycox round out the solid sophomore class.
Freshmen Allison Vote, Emily Simons, Nyakim Kang and Paige Kinley join eighth-graders Carsen Wetzel, Tori Svalland and Whitney Jensen to comprise the WHS roster.
“All of my girls that are returning will do well for me,” Reitmeier said. “I think they all have the opportunity to be varsity gymnasts, even if they weren’t last year. I always tell the girls, nobody has a for sure spot, not even Tara or Paige or any of those girls. They have to prove it and earn it. That’s what they’re doing right now, they are proving to me and trying to earn a spot on the varsity lineup. It’s anybody’s game right now. We have a lot of talent in this gym. It’s just who wants it the most.”
The Trojans open their season on Dec. 7 with a home meet against Blue Earth Area. For now, the lineup for the season opener is far from set.
“We have a lot of good girls coming back and a lot of empty spots,” Reitmeier said. “We’ll see when that first meet comes, who earned it.”