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Gymnastics: Trojans capture Big South Conference championship

Head coach Joni Reitmeier goes over some fine points before Gracia Elias starts her routine on the beam. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)1 / 3
Worthington High School teammates cheer on Maria Contreras as she works though her floor routine in the Big South gymnastics championships Saturday. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)2 / 3
Kara Thuringer of Worthington High School has a clean run on the vault as coach Joni Reitmeier spots her in the Big South gymnastics meet. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)3 / 3

BY AARON HAGEN

The Globe

WORTHINGTON -- For Gracia Elias, being on the Worthington gymnastics team is a little more complicated than for her teammates.

That’s because Elias, who is a ninth-grader, attends Adrian High School.

“We paired schools with Worthington and after school my sister drives us over and we practice with them,” Elias said. “We may be a little late, but we still get it in.”

Gracia and her sister Annika are both members of the Worthington gymnastics team that hadn’t been beaten by a Big South Conference opponent heading into Saturday’s conference championship. And with a team score of 144.475, the Trojans still haven’t as they won their second consecutive conference championship.

“It’s exciting to know you guys are one of the best teams,” Gracia said. “It’s fun to cheer on my teammates and have fun.”

Gracia was fifth in the vault (9.225), third on the bars (8.6), fifth on the beam (8.95) and fourth on the floor (9.05) to finish fourth in the all-around with a 35.875.

“I think I did pretty good. I had a little wobble on beam, but I still did pretty good overall,” she said. “I think that’s my best floor this year. I just felt more confident because there were so many people cheering. I just felt the love from my teammates.”

No individual awards were given on Saturday as the outcome was based solely on the team scores.

“For us, that makes it even more exciting,” WHS head coach Joni Reitmeier said. “This was a team championship. I think when you go to state as a team too, that makes it that much sweeter because it’s all about the team. It’s not different individuals, it’s all of us working together to make it happen.”

Jackson County Central was second with a 142.50, while New Ulm (135.775) was third and St. Peter (131.50) was fourth as the top two teams from the East and West competed on Saturday.

“I think it shows how much these girls can work together and how much they can lean on each other,” Reitmeier said. “We didn’t have all perfect routines, but we were able to at least get four out of the five and those girls lean on each other and they support each other. That’s what makes us such a successful team, is we’re able to do that. We’re able to pick up where somebody didn’t quite get where they wanted to go. I think that’s what’s most important about this team. It just shows their character. It totally is a team effort. It makes you so proud as a coach that’s what we can base this on, this team and not just particular people. It truly is the whole 27 girls working together every day to make this happen.”

The Trojans, who set a school record in a win over JCC on Thursday, were looking to carry that performance over into Saturday.

“We knew that we were pretty good, but we just wanted to keep the momentum going because we had a really good meet on Thursday with our high score,” Gracia Elias said. “We just wanted to keep the momentum going.”

The Trojans had a 37.25 on the vault, 34.40 on the bars, 36.275 on the beam and 36.55 on the floor. Maria Contreras was second on the vault with a 9.45, while Taylor Eggers was third with a 9.425. On the bars, Eggers tied for first with an 8.675. Eggers was first on the beam with a 9.25, while Adamari Rangel tied for third with a 9.175. On the floor, Contreras was first with a 9.35, while Kara Thuringer was second with a 9.1. Eggers was second in the all around with a 36.35.

“The thing we don’t talk a lot about, is we don’t talk about beating other people or being the champions,” Reitmeier said. “We already believe we’re champions and I think when we practice, we practice to be our best and when we perform, we perform to be our best. That’s what we really worry about and we concentrate on, every individual being their best for their team. I think that really helps.”

For JCC, Abby Schneekloth had a solid day. She was first in the vault with a 9.575, tied for first on the bars with an 8.675, was second on the beam with a 9.2 and was third on the floor with a 9.075. She won the all-around competition with a 36.525.

JCC’s Brooklyn Schuett was fourth on the vault (9.375), third on the beam (9.175), and third in the all around with a 35.925.

Saturday’s meet was the beginning of the postseason as the Section 3A meet is Saturday in Luverne.

“We battled hard,” Reitmeier said. “Coming off a really big meet on Thursday, it’s always hard. I think they performed really well. I can’t complain at all, I’m very excited. We have one more big one to go and then hopefully a trip to the state tournament. So we’re excited.”

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