WHS getting in shape for seasonWORTHINGTON — With all but three gymnasts returning from last season’s Worthington’s gymnastics team, which finished 6-1 in the Southwest Conference last season and third in its section, the only real problem for coach Joni Reitmeier is time.
WORTHINGTON — With all but three gymnasts returning from last season’s Worthington’s gymnastics team, which finished 6-1 in the Southwest Conference last season and third in its section, the only real problem for coach Joni Reitmeier is time.
“We’re in our second week of practice and our first meet is Tuesday,” Reitmeier said. “In gymnastics sense, they are just getting into shape.
“It takes about two weeks to get into gymnastics shape and about three days to lose it. It’s really, really hard to just get back to where we left off last year. Our first meet the goal is to compete a routine we did last year and build on that.”
There is no cure in the offseason for gymnastics except more gymnastics.
Although bigger areas have the temptation of doing club, rather than high school gymnastics, according to Reitmeier, smaller towns cannot keep athletes like gymnasts away from other sports.
“Our gymnastics team does gymnastics for four months during the season and a little in the two months we have them, otherwise they don’t do gymnastics,” Reitmeier said. “It gets hard when you get up to the big cities where if they aren’t learning from a coach, they are doing club gymnastics. Things are a little different here for athletes.”
According to Reitmeier, no other sport can make you better for gymnastics than the sport itself.
“Gymnastics is a sport on its own,” Reitmeier said. “No other sport gets you in shape for gymnastics.
“Gymnastics is one of those sports where you need a total in-shape body. You need total body control at all times, which means using every muscle in your body. Everything has to be strong and in shape to do this kind of sport.”
The main returnee for Worthington is junior Tara Svalland. As a freshman, Svalland qualified for state on vault. As a sophomore, she qualified in the floor exercise and on vault, earning a sixth-place on the latter. She became the first Trojan medalist since 2002 and was in a state of disbelief she scored a 9.45 on the vault.
“I thought they had a mistake,” Svalland said after the state meet. “There were a lot of good vaults. I didn’t think I was up there.”
Svalland also plays volleyball and runs track for Worthington.
“Granted, if they do another sport, they are in better shape than girls who don’t do any sports, but they still aren’t in gymnastics shape,” Reitmeier said. “Here, most of the athletes don’t do just one sport. They are more well-rounded and do other sports.”
Although playing other sports can alter the shape a gymnast is in, Reitmeier is certainly happy there are no club teams to alter her roster numbers.
“We graduated three seniors, but otherwise everyone has returned,” Reitmeier said. “We have four new seventh graders, one new eighth grader and one new junior, so we have 19 girls total.
“We have a big squad, which is exciting. I always like to see good numbers. We have great numbers a great group of girls.”
Anna Koepsell is one of those returning varsity gymnasts. Koepsell was an all-conference honorable mention last season as a sophomore on floor and has been on varsity since seventh grade.
“I hope that we reach all of our team goals and always try our best,” Koepsell said. “I want to make sure that I do better than I did last year and focus more on what I need to get better at.”
Haley Gravenhof transferred last year, so she was unable to participate on the varsity squad last season. In her senior season, Gravenhof has made the team and is prepared to put in the work.
“For me, there’s a lot of things I need to get better at,” Gravenhof said. “I’d just like to see us do better than we did last year and perfect things even though it gets difficult and to continue to try.”
Reitmeier has a saying to keep her gymnasts working to improve.
“I always tell the girls right now we have to do what’s necessary, the next step is to do what’s possible and the next step is to do the impossible,” Reitmeier said.
Worthington begins its season at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Winnebago versus Blue Earth.