Gymnastics team competes through injuries at state competition – Web Exclusive

Rebekah Barnes | Staff Writer

Mason High School gymnastics team competed at the state meet March 5 and while the team placed twelfth overall, the ability to deal with injury and complications brought a moral victory to the team.

Freshman Brooke Middleton, a key starter and competitor for the team, became injured two days before the state meet with a chipped elbow. During the meet, sophomore Maggie Fewell hyper-extended her knee during her first tumbling pass on floor. Coach Kelly Wones said that the loss of key starters took a toll on the team.

“Once we knew [Middleton] was out, we knew each starter and alternate had to hit 100% for us to do well [at state],” Wones said. “We lost…Fewell on the 1st event of the meet to a knee injury and, unfortunately, the team had a difficult time recovering from another loss of a starter.”

In the beginning of the season the team also lost key starters senior Lauren Brune and junior Rachel Hawthorne, due to preseason injuries.

Senior Alexandra Perez said the multiple injuries throughout and the requirement of alternates to fill places in the state competition made it tough for the team to continue during the meet.

“[Our performance] was [due to] the shock from girl[s] getting hurt then having to pull back through,” Perez said. “Then we had alternates [for] alternates.”

According to Fewell, the team at its entirety had a good season, losing only one meet–not including state—and breaking numerous school records and breaking the city record for points scored. During the season, Fewell said she found the team did its best at district meet, but afterwards, the team lost its momentum.

“We peaked at districts, which was our main goal [of the season],” Fewell said. “But, after districts…it all just went down hill. A bunch of girls got injured and nobody was [sticking] their routines. It was bad.”

Perez said, however, that she had an individual success at the state meet. This was her last meet of her gymnastics career, and she said that it was a good ending to the season individually, but wished better for the team.

“I was happy with my competition,” Perez said. “I was upset when it ended, because now my gymnastics career is over, …[but] I wouldn’t choose a different way to end it as far as individual competition.”

Along with Perez, individual success was accomplished by sophomore Anna Taylor, who placed sixteenth on beam and senior Olivia Bergesen, who placed thirty-first on vault, according to Wones.

However, Perez said that she thinks that the team this year has a stronger bond than that of last year, which helps to handle losses such as the state meet.

“This year, I think our team is a lot closer, so we were able to deal with [losses and competition at state] better,” Perez said.

With a close team, the score was not all that mattered to the team at state, but how they reacted to the situation was successful, according to Perez.

“I think last year we accomplished the score,” Perez said. “But this year, we accomplished the character. We had more character this year than we did last year.”

To hopefully add victory in next season for the gymnastics team, Fewell said that the team looks toward adding more difficulty to their routines to compete at a higher level, against the state-champions eight years in a row, Brecksville Broadway Heights High School.

“Next year, we’re definitely aiming for higher difficulty of skills,” Fewell said. “We’re looking to go into state [next year] having [more advanced skills]; [we want to be] able to give the Brecksville Bees…more competition next year.”

Fewell said that she hopes the team takes what it learned and reacted to at the state meet this year to the years to come in hopes to create a confident atmosphere going into future state tournaments.

“Normally, we get really down and really bummed when we lose,” Fewell said. “This year we were happy to be there, happy to compete, and we did well. So next year, [we hope to] go in[to states] not putting so much pressure on ourselves and just being confident in what we can do.”