Monday, February 28, 2011

Pine Island’s Schmidt gets beam surprise at State

When Pine Island gymnast Brittany Schmidt landed the final dismount of her gymnastics career, a slight grimace emerged upon her face.

“I just thought I could do better,” she said of her balance beam routine at the State Class A individual meet, Saturday at the University of Minnesota’s Sports Pavilion.

After sticking her beam finish, Schmidt was greeted and consoled by her coach, Chris Templeton. The two rejoined the other Panthers gymnasts as the remainder of 1A rotation of the beam competition resumed.

About an hour later, at the awards ceremony, Schmidt was seated with her teammates on the floor exercise mat as the winners were announced. Templeton stood nearby, unsuspecting any of his athletes earning medals - which would mean top six finishes in each gymnast’s respective events.

But then it came. Schmidt was announced as the fifth place medalist in balance beam.

“[It’s] nothing that I can explain, it was just overwhelming,” said the Pine Island senior, describing the moment her name was called.

“I was very surprised,” Schmidt said. “I just never thought I would place at state.”

Templeton was shocked as well, pumping his fist with pride. He described his pupil’s performance minutes before Schmidt had stepped atop the wooden platform adorned with a brown No. 5.

“Bars are her event,” Templeton said. “She took a fall on that, so she was very disappointed.”
When a gymnast falls, an automatic 0.5-point deduction is applied to her score. Schmidt’s uneven bars score was an 8.30, meriting an 18th place finish.

“In order for her to come back, re-gather herself and stick her beam the way that she did, it really speaks to the maturity that she has,” Templeton said. “Beam was her last event as a high school gymnast and she stuck it.”

Schmidt’s score on balance beam was 9.15.

Pine Island had three other gymnasts competing Saturday - Chelsie Glabe, Siera McNallan and Brenna Ruegg. McNallan and Ruegg each nabbed ninth-place finishes - McNallan in floor exercise (posting a 9.30), Ruegg in vault (9.425).

Schmidt’s medal was the first Pine Island captured at State since 2008, when Sarah Lerum earned three medals - placing third in floor, fourth in all-around and fifth in bars. Saturday was also the first time in Pine Island history that three gymnasts earned top ten finishes.

Other Rochester area Class A girls who competed were Austin’s Abby Bickler and Selena Hataye; Megan Lawson and Laura Mesenburg of Byron-Lourdes; Rochelle Thesing (LaCresent); and Hope Stremcha (Caledonia/Spring Grove/Houston).

Thesing earned a sixth-place medal in the all-around competition (with a score of 36.35), she also nearly earned a second (finishing seventh in bars, 9.0).

Pair of Mayo gymnasts compete in Class AA floor and vault
Hours after Class A concluded, a new crop of gymnasts stretched out and chalked up their hands in preparation for State AA individual competition.

Rochester Mayo seniors Leah Butterbaugh and Kayla Wiltrout competed in the floor exercise and vault events, respectively.

Butterbaugh performed first, as the fifth competitor in the first rotation (of eight) in floor. She executed her routine very well according to her Mayo coaches, Abby Siems and Dan Christy, among others.

Thus her score, a 9.2, befuddled them.

“The scores didn’t reflect what we thought she earned,” Siems said. “But that’s how gymnastics goes and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

A teary-eyed Butterbaugh also thought she deserved better. After accomplishing a career-high 9.65 at sections, her grade at State was tough to take.

“I think I did a good routine, except in my last [tumble] pass I piked out a little bit and that may have brought it down,” she said. “I felt I should have gotten a higher score, but that’s how it is.”

The suspect scoring aside, Butterbaugh’s coach approved her effort.

“Getting here [to State] is an accomplishment, she has a lot to be proud of even if it didn’t meet her expectations or what we had hoped for,” Siems said.

Approximately forty minutes after Butterbaugh’s floor exhibition, on the other side of the Pavilion was Wiltrout, who had her sights set on the vault.

Each vault competitor had two attempts. Christy explained there are three types of finishes a gymnast can attempt after she springs off the pommel horse - a tuck, pike and a layout, where the legs are either tucked in, slightly bent or straight out. Each having its own degree of difficulty.

A flawlessly executed tuck merits a 9.6, a perfect pike nets a 9.8, and an unblemished layout must be performed to achieve a 10.

In Wiltrout’s case, she went with her bread-and-butter, a pike, on her first attempt and a layout on the second. The results were 9.50 and 9.525, respectively. Christy said Wiltrout’s layout was something he and her had been working on all year but only used in competition in her last couple meets.

“I’ve been working on that Tsuk for a while,” said Wiltrout of her layout attempt, which included a Tsukahara (a midair move involving a half turn off the springboard onto the horse and a push backward into a flip). “It’s my last meet, so I went all out and hoped for the best.”

Wiltrout’s scores landed her in 15th place, which satisfied the Spartans senior. She said reaching State was something she had strived for since first entering high school.

“When you set a goal and say you want to make State and you make State, that’s a good year no matter how you look at it,” Christy said.

**This story was written for the Rochester Post-Bulletin. It's coverage of Rochester area high schools for Minnesota Class A and Class AA State gymnastics meet.
**Photos were taken by Post-Bulletin photographer, Jack Boder

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