Trojan gymnastics team is always poised for excellence
The Worthington High School gymnastics program has grown accustomed to competing in state tournaments. But it's the start of a new season, and for now at least, it's all about preparing for the task at hand.
WORTHINGTON -- It’s a number that should be firmly settled in the background now that the Worthington High School gymnastics team is preparing but has yet to participate in its first meet of the 2021-22 season.
Seven. Shhh.... Let’s leave it alone for now.
Ah, but seven is the number of state tournaments the Trojans have competed in consecutively. It’s too soon for the gymnasts to be thinking about an eighth straight state trip, but, of course, it’s impossible to totally ignore it. People are human, you know.
The Trojans’ veteran head coach, Joni Reitmeier, who has been there for all of them, was asked recently about the possibility of yet another state trip.
“It’s a long ways off. So anything can happen,” she said, patiently. “The girls never really talk about it. They always make it a goal to go to the state meet. … As a coach, obviously that’s amazing. But honestly, I never approached any season thinking we’re going to the state meet.”
That, of course, is because Reitmeier must be heavily involved in day-to-day operations. She’s getting them ready for their routines, both mentally and physically. It’s a tough job to be a gymnast , and it’s a tough job to be a coach, too.
Worthington will have its first meet Tuesday at home against St. James Area. On hand for the Trojans will be three athletes who competed as individuals at the 2021 state tournament.
Abby Bristow, a senior, participated on the floor exercise and balance beam. “A beautiful beam worker, very consistent. She’s always been a great leader on the team,” Reitmeier described her.
Mekyla Nystrom, another senior, did state on floor, vault and bars. “She’s explosive. She’s dynamic. A very, very powerful gymnast,” Reitmeier said.
The third, sophomore Hali Bullerman, performed in all four events plus the all-around at last year’s state meet. “I would say her greatest attribute is that she’s a fierce competitor,” said her coach.
Other key returnees are juniors Mia Nixon, Ivy Jenson, Kelsey Soleta and sophomores Addison Gerber, Olivia Barber and Cristy Banegas.
A couple of the girls will be out of action early due to injuries. Greatly missed will be Gracia Elias, who graduated following an outstanding gymnastics career. Reitmeier says she’s as dedicated a gymnast and teammate as she’s ever worked with.
The new Trojans are again highly talented, with perhaps not quite as much depth.
“I think the team is going to be very much more mixed this year. Some of the girls will be put in positions they’re not used to. Very talented team, but a little more inexperience than we have had in recent years,” Reitmeier said, adding, “I think they’ll shine. But it’s going to be a learning experience. I think some of them might surprise themselves, honestly. And surprise others.”
Perhaps because the team hasn’t had a meet yet, Nystrom said this week that she feels like she’s got “a bad case of senior-itis.” She realizes that it’s her last year, and she wants to go out with a bang. But it’s hard to envision that bang in November.
“I think we all feel a lot of stress right now, unintentionally,” she explained. “I think it’s affecting the vibe right now. But I think it will wear off.”
For the Trojans gym team, it does always seem to wear off and become replaced with an infectious confident spirit. That’s been the story, at least, for seven years running.