PREP GYMNASTICS: Svalland places 6th at state in vaultMINNEAPOLIS — Tara Svalland thought there was some sort of mistake. In fact, there wasn’t. A sophomore on Worthington’s gymnastics team, Svalland scored a 9.45 on the vault to finish sixth at the Class A state gymnastics meet on Saturday.
By: Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe
MINNEAPOLIS — Tara Svalland thought there was some sort of mistake.
In fact, there wasn’t.
A sophomore on Worthington’s gymnastics team, Svalland scored a 9.45 on the vault to finish sixth at the Class A state gymnastics meet on Saturday.
“I thought they had a mistake,” Svalland said. “There were a lot of good vaults. I didn’t think I was up there.”
But she was.
Svalland becomes the first state medalist since 2002 for the Trojans, but it hasn’t sunk it quite yet.
“It probably will (today) because I won’t come to practice and I’ll know that it was the end,” Svalland said. “It was just like another meet.”
Svalland had a 9.3 on her first vault, and a 9.45 on her second.
“The second was the better one,” she said. “That’s when I stuck it and my chest was more up than the first.”
After qualifying a year ago, the scene wasn’t anything new for the Trojan.
“I’m used to it,” Svalland said. “I wasn’t at all afraid. It was the fastest two vaults ever, that’s what it felt like.”
Jackson County Central’s Sydnee Donnelli was fifth with a 9.475.
Martin County Area’s Paige Breneman was fourth with a 9.5, while teammate Matraca Steen tied with Svalland for sixth.
“I was proud of our section,” WHS head coach Joni Reitmeier said. “We represented our section awesome on the vault. Four of our competitors were up on that platform, which is awesome.”
Watching from the stands, Reitmeier had a different reaction when Svalland’s name was called.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh,’” the coach said. “I looked at my mom and I have to tell you, it’s one of those things, the older you get, you still want to share those special moments in your life with the people that are most important. My mom was with us and I turned to her and I just started crying. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh mom, I have a state medalist.’”
Before the scores were announced, Reitmeier wasn’t sure how Svalland scored.
“It’s kind of one of those deals where they all went down to wait for awards and I was up by her family and my mom,” she said. “They did vault very first and it was kind of weird because all of a sudden, they were like, ‘Tara Svalland.’ It’s kind of unexpected. I didn’t even know what she scored to be honest. I knew she did two really good vaults and that’s all that mattered to me. I didn’t even look at the score. We hugged after she did her second vault and that was it. We watched everybody else and went on our way.”
But the score was good, and Svalland went to the podium to receive her medal.
“I just hope she takes it all in and realizes what a great accomplishment that is,” Reitmeier said. “I feel like I accomplished something and I’m not the one that went out there and did it. I was the one on the sidelines supporting her. Ultimately, she was the one that did it.”
While the moment hasn’t sunk in for Svalland, she is enjoying wearing her medal — she may even wear it to school today.
JCC’s Brandi Sether-Hassing was 13th on the uneven bars after scoring an 8.675.
Teammate Sydnee Donnelli was 17th with an 8.4.
Adriane Rentschler was 23rd on the beam for the Huskies after scoring an 8.225.
Svalland was 24th on the floor with an 8.875.
“That was scary with all those people,” Svalland said of her floor routine. “It was just like, ‘Oh man.’ It’s different. It’s at state and you don’t know everyone there.
“I could have done better on my passes. But overall, I did good for state.”
Courtney Donnelli was 25th on the floor with an 8.85.
Sydnee Donnelli was 13th in the all-around with a combined score of 35.35.
Svalland is already motivated to return next year.
“It will make me want to go more on floor next year,” she said. “I’ll just have to improve and do more skills.”
While Svalland has her sights set on improving, her coach knows the potential is unlimited.
“I’ve taught Tara a long time and I’ve been her coach a long time,” Reitmeier said. “It is fun to watch them grow and become wonderful women and watch them grow in their gymnastics and in life. She’s definitely grown into a nice young lady. She’s a bright girl and she’s athletic. She’s not only super in gymnastics, she’s super in two other sports. I guess I thank my lucky stars that I have the opportunity to coach her.”
As for Svalland, her goal is to qualify in the all-around competition next year.
But how about a state title?
“We’ll shoot for that, too,” she said.