GYMNASTICS: WHS gymnasts win dual against MarshallWORTHINGTON — After an early season injury forced a change in the usual lineup, the Worthington girls’ gymnastics team needed senior Ellen Dudley to do something she had never done before — compete as an all-rounder.
WORTHINGTON — After an early season injury forced a change in the usual lineup, the Worthington girls’ gymnastics team needed senior Ellen Dudley to do something she had never done before — compete as an all-rounder.
On Thursday, Dudley’s consistency in all four of the events gave her a podium finish for the first time in the all-around category, and helped the Trojans top Marshall 119.95 to 108 in their first conference meet of the season.
“We had an injury early in the season, so senior Ellen Dudley has stepped up into that role, and she’s been doing a very good job,” coach Joni Reitmeier said. “She has been a varsity gymnast, but never an all-around varsity gymnast. So she’s doing a really good job, and I’m excited that she placed today for the first time.”
Dudley finished third all-around with a score i 27.125, and finished third in the vault with a score of 8.275 for her best finish in a single event.
“I think I was just consistent in a lot of the events, which got me the all-around place,” Dudley said. “It helps when all the team is doing well, then it bumps you up too. It’s really a team effort — I’m just in all the events.”
WHS Sophomore Tara Svalland and MHS sophomore Nikki McNair battled for first place in all four events, with McNair taking the edge in three out of the four to take the all-around title with a score of 34.4 to Svalland’s score of 33.0.
Svalland won the vault with a score of 9.1, and finished second behind McNair in the uneven parallel bars, balance beam and floor events. McNair was second in the vault.
The pair has been competing against each other head-to-head for the past two seasons, and last year both qualified for state.
“They’re the same age — very close skill levels obviously,” Reitmeier said. “They always kind of go head to head, which is exciting. I think they get along really well outside of being competitors, so that’s always fun. There are very similar talents with those girls, so it will be fun to watch them in the next few years and see how that rivalry goes.”
Svalland is already anticipating the next time the two will compete against each other.
“It’s going to be fun to go against her again at sections,” Svalland said. “It’s going to be a match.”
Anna Koepsell finished third for the Trojans in the floor and balance beam events, and Stephanie Jaycox finished third for the Trojans in the uneven parallel bars.
Despite the victory on the night, Worthington continued to struggle on the balance beam, an event that has been causing the team ongoing problems.
The Trojans are also in the midst of an unfortunate trend where their overall team scores have been falling as the season progresses.
“In all honesty, we really struggled tonight,” Reitmeier said. “Unfortunately our team scores are going down instead of up, which nobody — the gymnasts and the coach — want to see. We have some struggles, we have some things we really need to work on — the judges were really good about pointing some of those things out to me — so now we hit the winter break where we have time to work on those things and pick up some new skills.”
The matchup between Worthington and Marshall is usually a pretty even one. However, this season the Tigers are low on numbers — which meant they were unable to compete in the Junior Varsity event.
“They’re down a little bit in numbers, which is unfortunate for me to see, because I want to see all gymnastics programs thrive,” Reitmeier said. “They’ve always been a good team, and we always enjoy going against them. We’re just hoping that they can boost that up so they can keep their program alive and well.”
Haley Gravenhof won the all-around JV title on Thursday with 24.1 points, followed by Kara Honius in second and by Jaycox in third.
Jaycox won the JV floor event, Tori Svalland won on the balance beam, and Koepsell won on the bars and in the vault event.
Now that the Trojans have their first conference matchup out of the way, they will be off until they travel to Redwood Valley on Jan. 4, giving them plenty of practice time to iron out some of the kinks.
“All in all we won, we got our first conference win, so we’re excited about that,” Reitmeier said. “Are we excited about our performance? Probably not — we wish we would have done better. We know what we need to work on, and the girls are all very very talented. Watch out for us when we come back from the break.”
Dudley will take the confidence she gained from her performance on Thursday to try and improve even further in all her events. The break will also give her some extra time to recover from a bout of walking pneumonia that was still lingering during Thursday’s meet.
“I think it just boosts my confidence, and I’ll try to get myself better for (January),” Dudley said. “It’s good to keep my confidence up. I think I need to work harder at everything. I know I can do better at all the events, so we’ll see what we can do over Christmas break.”