Trojan gymnasts take third at True Team meet
The Worthington Trojans earned their highest-ever place at a Minnesota Class A True Team meet with a score of 174.525. Big Lake won the meet with a score of 176.2.
WORTHINGTON — Superb performances on the vault and floor events launched the Worthington Trojans gymnastics team to a third place finish in the Minnesota Class A True Team meet Saturday, which was hosted by Worthington. The Trojans scored 174.525 points, which included 44.975 on the vault, 44.9 on the floor, 43.2 on the balance beam, and 41.45 on the uneven parallel bars.
“We have not hosted this meet for 20 years down here in Worthington. To have people come here, see our community, see what we have to offer, see our beautiful facility, I think it just says a lot for us," said Worthington head coach Joni Reitmeier. "It just means a lot, we like to see these really amazing teams come down here and see what we have to offer and to be able to compete with the best-of-the-best is really fun.
“I am so proud of them," she added. "This is the best finish ever that I have had as a coach, and that we have had as a team at True Team.”
The winner of the True Team meet was Big Lake with a team score of 176.2. The Hornets’ margin of victory was narrow as Detroit Lakes trailed closely with a team score of 176.0. The Lakers had the highest team scores on the vault with 45.75, and on the bars with 44.3.
Big Lake had scores of 44.975 on the vault, 44.775 on the floor, 44.0 on the bars, and 42.45 on the balance beam.
Melrose gymnasts placed fourth with a score of 171.125. Byron earned fifth with 170.375. New London-Spicer placed sixth with 169.45. Becker placed seventh with 169.15. Benson-KMS took eighth place with 167.075, and St. Peter was ninth with 152.975.
Nine teams competed in the meet, as Mankato West withdrew after a Scarlets gymnast left in an ambulance during warm-ups. The gymnast was practicing her floor routine and missed her landing on the platform, hitting the concrete floor.
“Anytime somebody gets hurt, no matter what kind of injury that it is — at any place — is just devastating. We never want that to happen, but accidents happen no matter what," Reitmeier said. "There was nothing we could have done to prevent it, it was just one of those fluke things, but we responded to it well. Me being a nurse, I kind of went into nurse mode there for a hot-second and helped get her stabilized and ready to go.
"She is doing better. I got all the girls together, we talked about it and then we prayed for her," Reitmeier added. "After that, we got back on track and said, ‘Hey let's dedicate this meet for her and make sure that she knows we are rooting for her.' It is unfortunate that Mankato (West) had to withdraw, they are an amazing gymnastics team, but yet mentally, we want the girls to be safe. I think their coach and AD made a good choice by just saying ‘We need to chill today and come back another day.”
The meet’s theme was the 1990’s. Worthington coaches wore vibrant pants and neon hats. Gymnasts wore colorful bands in their heads, and when they were not competing, they wore brightly colored shirts created for the True Team meet.
Heather Hummel deserves a big shout-out, she planned a lot of this. She put a committee together, was really organized and helped it come together,” Reitmeier said.
The Worthington Trojans had five girls compete in all four events, including Hali Bullerman, Addison Gerber, Olivia Barber, Cristy Banegas, and Kelsey Soleta.
“It is so cool to have this meet come here. Usually we have to travel super far,” said Soleta, a WHS senior. “It feels so good. It is the best we have done at True Team so far. The whole team is just one big family, we are super close. Spending day in and day out with each other is awesome.”
The Trojans started on the bars, finishing fourth highest. The second event was beam and the Trojans scored well, but lost out on more points through falls and shaky moments.
“I said to the girls, ‘Hey, beam is over, and it is what it is, but our two strongest events are up. Let's go out there and let's do it,’ and they certainly did just that,” said Reitmeier. “That shows strength in our team — mental toughness. It was a super good rotation for us.”
On the floor, the Trojans began to pick up steam. A great veteran moment on the floor event came from Addison Gerber, who showed great savvy in tip-toeing inbounds on an impromptu cartwheel in a fluid motion after her momentum carried her away from a sticked landing. Gerber scored an exceptional 9.125 for her floor routine. Bullerman was fantastic and scored highly with a 9.275. The Trojans' score on the floor was the highest of all teams at the meet.
“I am super, super proud of us, and the exciting part is that there is still room for improvement,” Reitmeier shared.
The Trojans have a busy upcoming schedule, something Reitmeier said they will handle by taking one day at a time. The Trojans have two meets next week, and a fast approaching Big South Conference meet on Feb. 18, in Pipestone. But, at the True Team meet, a moment was given to remember the hard work and dedication they and Worthington gymnasts of the past have put in to bring such a high feature meet to town.
“It is awesome, but I also think it is long overdue. We have had an amazing gymnastics program, and we have a beautiful facility,” said Reitmeier. “Worthington is a great town, and I don’t think it always gets perceived as that. I am from here, I grew up in Bigelow, I went to school here and I am an alumni. I’ve been here my whole life and so has my husband, our daughter goes to school here, and we are super proud to be in Worthington and be a part of the Worthington community.
"We want other people to recognize us for all the positive things we have here," she added. "We just got so many compliments on our town in general, our facility, the people that ran this meet, and helped me. We are talking thousands of hands.”