WORTHINGTON -- The sunny pixie smile that McKenna Prunty reveals to the world has always been real. And it lights up a room.
But there has been pain and disappointment, too, in that perky face and in that spritely body that has captivated Worthington High School gymnastics fans for years. Injuries -- seemingly implausible injuries and justifiably unfair injuries -- have all but put an end to her state tournament-quality gym career.
She is a senior now and she’s still working out with her WHS teammates this winter. But she may never compete in a varsity gym event again.
The trouble started early in her sophomore season when performing a full twist off the bar. It resulted in a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus, and she chipped her femur as well. After a year-long recovery, she competed again as a junior. But halfway through the season she injured her meniscus once more and sat out for about a week. Upon returning, she re-tore her ACL while performing on the vault.
But the extent of her latest injury was not understood, so she competed through the remainder of the season. The week after she performed in the state tournament, she went in for a cleanup and, according to her own words, “the ACL was just gone.”
Prunty has been performing in gymnastics since the age of 2. Her mother, Kay, who owns the dance academy in Worthington, was also a Worthington High School gymnast -- and was, like her daughter, a very good one.
McKenna, who has also competed in high school golf and dance at WHS, spent part of the fall serving as manager on the Trojans’ girls tennis team. Her happy, outgoing personality still shined brightly on the sidelines. But, no doubt, it has taken a lot of courage to learn to accept her current situation.
She is this week’s Drill feature. Ironically, this marks the second Prunty to be featured in The Drill. McKenna’s older brother, Jacob, who wrestles for Concordia College, was the very first athlete featured in the spring of 2017.
You can see McKenna’s video online at www.dglobe.com. Here’s a sample of the interview:
QUESTION: What is your best memory from your gymnastics career?
ANSWER: “The time I remember most, after my sophomore year it was my first meet coming back. I was doing an aerial on the beam and I was very nervous for it. Beam’s my favorite, and I’d been out for a year, and when I dismounted off the beam I just remember Joni (Reitmeier, the head coach) giving me the biggest hug, and then my team running up to me, and that was just the coolest thing ever. Because they just cared so much, and they were there for me.”
QUESTION: What are some other interests of yours outside of sports?
ANSWER: “I like art. I am very bad at it, though. I am horrible. I can’t draw, I can barely color in the lines. But I love doing it. I randomly will paint, and in the end it’s very abstract and you can’t tell what it is. But I enjoy it.”
QUESTION: Have you made plans for after you graduate?
ANSWER: “I have not picked a college yet. It’s between Concordia-Moorhead -- that’s where my brother goes -- and Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. I don’t plan on doing sports, mainly because of the injuries, but I hope to go into the medical field and, as of right now, I would be a physician’s assistant. I really enjoy what he does. My physician’s assistant is great.”