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WHS gym team ranked No. 1 in Class A

Local high school gymnastics fans who happened to see the latest Minnesota state rankings this week must have done a double-take.

WORTHINGTON -- Local high school gymnastics fans who happened to see the latest Minnesota state rankings this week must have done a double-take.

Or even a triple-take.

The Worthington Trojans are ranked atop the state Class A field.

That’s Number One. Numero Uno.

The rankings, which are tabulated according to average scores turned in to the Minnesota Gymnastics Coaches Association, has WHS with a 142.438 score. That’s ahead of No. 2 Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa with 142.100, third-ranked Perham with 141.175, fourth-ranked Mankato West with 141.163 and fifth-ranked Big Lake with 139.9.

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Head coach Joni Reitmeier’s Trojans have qualified for the state Class A tournament for six consecutive years, but their highest team finish was fifth place, which was accomplished last season. Big Lake placed first last winter with a 146.825 score, followed by Perham with 144.925 and Watertown-Mayer/Mound Westonka with 144.375.

This is the first time ever that the WHS program has been ranked atop the field.

On Thursday, Reitmeier graciously acknowledged the ranking and said her athletes were obviously excited to see it.

“We talked about it. The girls are very excited and they should be. It’s an honor to be ranked No. 1 in the state,” Reitmeier said.

But the coach also reminded her gymnasts that rankings are just a number, based on whatever scores coaches forward to the coaches association. Some coaches may not have sent in all their scores, she wondered, in this unusual year of COVID-19 distractions.

“That’s a snapshot of the season. And we don’t know if it’s going to stay that way,” she said.

The Trojans are led in 2021 by senior Gracia Elias, juniors Mekyla Nystrom and Abby Bristow, and freshman Hali Bullerman along with several other important contributors. The Trojans have such a deep program that its junior varsity team sometimes outscores rival varsity teams.

As far as the season going forward is concerned, Reitmeier warned against becoming overly enamored with the Trojans’ high state ranking. Unlike basketball, she said, where players who miss an important shot get second and third chances, there’s only one chance in every meet to hit the mark in gymnastics. Either you’re “on” or you’re not.

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That said, she’s a big believer in her athletes.

“My girls,” she said, “can be as good as any team anywhere on any given day.”

But humility is in order. “We just have to make sure that we keep (the ranking) in check. … We still need to continue to work hard and get better,” she said.

This year’s state tournament, delayed from it’s typical starting date due to COVID-19 concerns, is tentatively scheduled to take place at Champlin Park High School March 26-27.

021321 N DG Worthington Trojans Gymnastics S2.jpg
Worthington Trojans Hali Bullerman accelerates down the runway to the vault as visiting Windom Eagles gymnasts watch her progress Friday night. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

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