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WHS gymnastics teams rolls and tumbles to eighth straight state tournament berth

The Worthington Trojans gym team easily surpassed the Section 3A field Saturday in Marshall, with 145.4 points. WHS will represent the section for the eighth consecutive year in the state tournament while sending several for the individual tournament, too.

Worthington Trojans (from left) Olivia Barber, Mekyla Nystrom, Hali Bullerm and Abigail Bristow join in a salute after qualifying to compete in individual competition at State level with other section 3A gymnasts Saturday in Marshall Minnesota.
Worthington Trojans (from left) Olivia Barber, Mekyla Nystrom, Hali Bullerman and Abigail Bristow join in a salute after qualifying at the Section 3A meet to compete in individual competition at the state level Saturday in Marshall. Worthington will make it's eighth consecutive state team appearance.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

MARSHALL -- As if it were a foregone conclusion, the Worthington High School gymnastics team captured its eighth straight section championship on Saturday, easily surpassing a seven-team field in the 2022 3A tournament.

Worthington scored 145.4 points to secure its eighth consecutive berth in the state tournament, finishing well ahead of second-place Jackson County Central (133.65), Luverne (132.75), Marshall (127.525), Redwood Valley (126.675), Pipestone Area (126.625) and Windom Area (125.3) at Marshall High School.

The Trojans will represent the section in the Minnesota Class A state tournament Friday beginning at 6 p.m. at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul. Then, starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday, the section’s top two all-arounders, Hali Bullerman and Mekyla Nystrom, will be joined by WHS teammates Kelsey Soleta, Abby Bristow, Kenadie Thiner, Olivia Barber and Abby Bristow in the individual portion of the tournament.

Worthington Trojans Hali Bullerman strikes a pose at the end of a run in the floor routine as teammates cheer her on ( from left) Addison Gerber, Olivia Barber, Mekyla Nystrom , Abigail Bristowand head coach Joni Reitmeier during section 3A gymnasts tenement action Saturday in Marshall Minnesota.
Worthington Trojan Hali Bullerman strikes a pose at the end of a run in the floor routine as teammates cheer her on ( from left) Addison Gerber, Olivia Barber, Mekyla Nystrom , Abigail Bristow and head coach Joni Reitmeier) during Section 3A gymnasts tournament action Saturday in Marshall.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

Eight straight years to state. But it never gets old.

“I believe this is the most individuals I’ve ever had qualify for state before,” said head coach Joni Reitmeier, who has led the Trojans all those years.

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And the team. Yeah. Eight in a row.

“I don’t even know, honestly, how to describe it. I’m just so proud. I feel so honored to be their coach. I coach them, but they are the ones who go out there and sacrifice, and do the best for their team. I’m just so honored to have a team like that,” Reitmeier continued.

Worthington’s first event Saturday afternoon was the uneven parallel bars, then came the balance beam, floor exercise and the vault. The team scored a collective 34.775 on bars, 36.075 on beam, 37.475 on floor and 37.075 on vault -- topping the tournament field in all four events.

Worthington Trojans Mekyla Nystrom rotates through an element of her floor routine  during section 3A gymnasts tenement action Saturday in Marshall Minnesota.
Worthington Trojans Mekyla Nystrom rotates through an element of her floor routine Saturday in Marshall.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

Bullerman, a sophomore, scored 36.85 in the all-around, and Nystrom, a senior, scored 36.475.

Bullerman was the first-place winner on the bars (8.85) and Nystrom was second (8.775). Bullerman also won the floor exercise (9.55) and the vault (9.475) while placing third on the beam (8.975). Nystrom tied for first place in the balance beam competition with Barber, each scoring 9.1, while getting a second on vault (9.3) and a third on floor exercise (9.3).

Barber scored 9.375 for second on floor and was fourth on the bars (8.65). Soleta was third on vault (9.225) and sixth on bars (8.5). Bristow finished fourth on beam (8.9), tied for fourth on vault with Thiner and Luverne’s Ella Reisdorfer (9.075), and was fourth on the floor (9.25).

Bristow also placed fourth in the all-around, with 35.525.

“It’s so exciting. To be able to go (to state) every year I’ve been on the team, it’s so incredible,” said Bristow, a senior. “I wouldn’t say it feels different (this year). It’s the same excitement all the time.”

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Barber, a sophomore, pronounced herself proud of everybody.

“I feel like we did really good. I’m proud of the team,” she said. As for herself, she was proud, too.

“I felt I did great. The team support really helps everything so much,” she added.

And the team going to state for an eighth straight time?

“That’s just mind-blowing. It’s crazy to think we’re going there eight times. It’s crazy,” Barber said.

Addison Gerber, another sophomore, said she was nervous going into Saturday’s competition. But she didn’t look like it, getting sixth on beam and tying for seventh on floor.

“Mentally, I was scared,” she admitted. “But I knew that I knew how to do it. Physically, I knew how to do it, but mentally it was tough to tell my body what to do. After warmups I relaxed a little bit, knowing I could relax.”

Nystrom entered the meet a cool veteran. She had already participated in several state individual events before this season. But she didn’t get off to a great start at Marshall. She was dissatisfied with the slightly wobbly dismount she made on the Trojans’ first event -- the bars.

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But for the rest of the tourney, it was smooth sailing.

“It’s my first year making the all-around (for state),” she declared after the awards ceremony. “So I’m pretty proud of that.”

Like Nystrom, Bullerman is already a seasoned state competitor in team and individual events. And she was on her mark throughout the afternoon.

“The feeling is amazing to just go there (to state) with your team and to have a fun weekend. Joni says the most important thing is to just go out there and have fun and do your best,” she said.

The Luverne Cardinals’ fine freshman, Reisdorfer, will go to the state in the all-around where she finished third with a score of 35.625. Individually, she finished in a tie for fourth on the vault, fourth on the beam, fifth on the bars and fifth on the floor.

Redwood Valley’s Avery Wilson was third on the bars (8.7) and advances in that event. Cameen McFarquhar of Marshall advances on beam. And Pipestone Area’s Kaysa Douty, who tied for sixth on floor, advances in that event.

Related Topics: GYMNASTICS
Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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