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Gymnastics: Trojans all set for section meet

 WORTHINGTON — Armed with a very simple philosophy, the 2013-14 Worthington Trojans gymnastics team has rolled to a 12-0 dual meet record.

It’s a simple philosophy that remains in place for today’s (Feb. 15) Section 3A tournament at Marshall High School. “We just go in there thinking it’s just any other meet, and just being confident on what we do and not worry about any other team,” said senior gymnast Paige Kinley during a Thursday afternoon practice session.

You can’t argue with success. Worthington has already beaten arch-rival Jackson County Central in a regular season dual, and that’s something that has happened only rarely. Today in Marshall, the Trojans will try to outscore a good JCC team again as well as strong rivals Martin County West and Windom/Mountain Lake to qualify as a team to the state tournament for the first time in 10 years. Kinley, the only senior on the team, qualified as an individual last season where she placed 17th on the balance beam and 25th on the floor exercise.

This time around, she hopes to get the chance to compete in the all-around at the Feb. 21-22 meet scheduled for the Sports Pavilion at the University of Minnesota. But she’s quick to point out that the team’s goals come first.

“It all just comes down to hard work in practice. And it’s just like they say — practice makes perfect,” Kinley said.

Consistency has been the Trojans’ watchword throughout the winter. They began the season with scores hovering around the 133-point range, then moved into the mid-130s. Later on, they scored 138.4 on the road against JCC, and they’ve also surpassed 140.

Kinley, junior Whitney Jensen, freshman Liz Hayenga, eighth-grader Maria Contreras and seventh-grader Taylor Eggers have been mainstays. The Trojans are young, with only two team members in grades higher than ninth. But despite their youth, they are not inexperienced.

“We have five strong all-arounders. This is the first year I’ve had five all-arounders on varsity,” said head coach Joni Reitmeier.

Despite the pride Reitmeier feels as a coach, she is careful not to get ahead of the curve. When asked if Worthington is the legitimate Section 3A favorite this year, she stepped back.

“I don’t know what other people think. We’re not going in there thinking we’re the favorite. We’re just going to do our very best, and hopefully put on a good show for everybody,” she said, adding, “We’re pretty modest here in our gym.”

Even so, she acknowledges the thrill that a state berth can provide. “As a coach, that’s a dream,” she said, “and to show the state of Minnesota what we can do here in Worthington.”

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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