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The Drill: JCC's Abby Schneekloth pushes herself to succeed

JACKSON -- Abby Schneekloth was 6, maybe 7, years old when she first began to dabble in gymnastics. Like any youngster, she struggled with the skills at first, and found it difficult to endure the long practices.

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Jackson County Central gymnast Abby Schneekloth poses on the balance beam. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

JACKSON -- Abby Schneekloth was 6, maybe 7, years old when she first began to dabble in gymnastics. Like any youngster, she struggled with the skills at first, and found it difficult to endure the long practices.

But she knew she had ability.

“It came naturally to me,” she says today as a state tournament veteran for the Jackson County Central Huskies.

A senior, Schneekloth is not the first in her family to have competed in gymnastics with distinction. Before her, a sister -- Riley -- and a cousin -- Bailey -- proved successful at the sport. Both of them encouraged Abby to follow in their footsteps.

“I always wanted to be better than my sister. That’s always how I’ve been, growing up,” Abby said. “She’d always push me to be my best, her and Bailey. She’d make sure that I was working hard, and make sure that the skills were there.”

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For the 2017-18 season, the Huskies brought three All-Big South Conference selectees forward to challenge the Worthington Trojans for a state tournament berth. Schneekloth, Brooklyn Schuett and Hailey Handevidt are the three, and they’ll all need to be at their best in February when the Huskies attempt to win a ticket to the University of Minnesota Pavilion. Worthington has won the Section 3A tournament for three years straight, but only barely in 2017 by scoring 142.575 points to runner-up Jackson County Central’s 142.5.

Schneekloth remains an optimist as she looks ahead.

“I think we have a pretty good chance to make it to the state tournament this year,” she said recently. “We all have to keep working hard and stay healthy. It’s always fun to compete against Worthington because they are just like us, and I think it’ll be a close section.”

The Globe sent a reporter and a photographer to Jackson recently to learn more about Schneekloth’s gymnastics story. You can see the video online at www.dglobe.com . Here is a sampling of the interview:

QUESTION: How is gymnastics different than most other sports? What is it that you really enjoy the most about it?

ANSWER: “I think gymnastics is different than most other sports just because it’s more challenging. It pushes you to be the best athlete that you can be. I like gymnastics because of the challenging part. I like to be pushed to the best of my ability.”

Q: What is your favorite event in gymnastics, and why?

A: “My favorite event is probably vault. I’ve always excelled in vault and I’ve always loved to go and work the vault. The event that frustrates me the most is probably (balance) beam. I struggle staying on, a lot. I always try to work as hard as I can on beam because I want to get better.”

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Q: How many state gymnastics tournaments have you competed in? Do you remember how nervous you were the first time?

A: “I have competed in four state gymnastics tournaments. Actually, in my first one I was not nervous at all; I just competed (uneven parallel) bars with the team. And I think the whole team being with me made me more comfortable, and more comfortable with the Pavilion. It was a lot of fun.”

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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