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WHS GYMNASTICS: Svalland returns from state with new tricks

WORTHINGTON -- Tara Svalland was greeted Sunday at the Armory by a plethora of family and friends welcoming on her return from the state tournament.

While well-wishers ate cake and her siblings played a game of hide-and-seek amid the many mats and obstacles in the gym, Svalland went from guest to guest telling everyone about her experience at the individual state gymnastics meet at the University of Minnesota over the weekend.

"I did very good, I thought," Svalland said. "I was nervous to do bars and beam since I've never competed those at state before, but I feel as though I met the expectations I had for myself."

Svalland, who was the only Worthington gymnast to qualify for the state meet, competed in the all-around, vault, blance beam and floor apparatuses.

Out of 32 contenders, the junior finished 20th in the all-around event with a score of 35.55.

Svalland also finished eighth on the vault with a 9.4, 13th on the beam with an 8.975 and 24th on the floor exercise with a 9.1.

"She did wonderful," Worthington head coach Joni Reitmeier said. "I think I was more nervous than she was. She remained so calm the whole time. I couldn't have asked for anything more from her. She performed up to her potential and I am so proud of her for that."

Both Reitmeier and Svalland agreed that the gymnast's best event was her vault.

Svalland performed a new trick -- a pike, like she performed all season, with an added layout -- to her vault and Reitmeier said it was the "best she's ever performed her vault."

However, the judges didn't give her as high of a score as Svalland had been used to seeing all year. Reitmeier guessed that was because there was a slight bend in the junior's layout.

"She stuck the landing, didn't even take a step," Reitmeier said. "What a better way to try it out than at the state tournament. That's probably the trick she's going to compete all next year, so it's good to see it receive good scores the first time out."

Other than the new trick on the vault, all of Svalland's routines remained the same.

One difference from the rest of the season, however, was Svalland stuck her dismount off of the balance beam, something she didn't do at all prior to the state tournament.

With two appearances at state under her belt prior to this year's trip, Svalland said, she felt all around more relaxed and confident at the meet this time around.

"It gets way easier as far as nerves go each year," Svalland said. "You just have to know that whatever happens, happens and there's not really anything you can do to change things once you've done them. In the next year I just hope to improve on everything and try out some new tricks to include in my routines for next season."

Svalland was one of only four local competitors who qualified for the individual tournament. And Reitmeier said she and Jackson County Central's three representatives -- Sydnee Donnelli, Brandi Sether-Hassing and Adriane Rentschler -- did a good job of showing off what Southwest Minnesota has to offer as far as gymnastics goes.

"Our section was represented so well this year," Reitmeier said. "Everyone just did fabulous. The thing about this area, being out in the sticks, is that there are no big gymnastics clubs for these girls to train at during the offseason. These girls participate in other sports and have to take time away from gymnastics once the season is over. In most other places, those girls compete in gymnastics all year round.

"To go to state and show the amazing skills we have and the good gymnasts we produce given our limited opportunities is phenomenal. I am so proud of how all of the local competitors did."

Daily Globe Sports Reporter Jocelyn Syrstad can be reached at 376-7335