Right where they want to be: Trojans gym team wins Big South championship

Feb. 9—WORTHINGTON — Friday's gymnastics meet at the Area Learning Center was meaningful for the Worthington Trojans for a few reasons.

For starters, it was for the Big South Conference championship, which the Trojans clinched over Martin County Area 141.525 to 135.95.

It also was a good preview for the Trojan gymnasts to help get them ready for next week's section tournament. That's especially important for the younger gymnasts, with not quite as much varsity experience as some of the veterans, who have been stepping up later in the season due to injuries on the team.

The Big South championship was an opportunity for them to compete in another big meet with some high stakes.

"It's a good way to get those nerves out in a big meet, knowing like, 'Hey, we got a championship on the line,'" said Trojans head coach Joni Reitmeier. "That makes the heart pump a little bit faster, makes things mean a little bit more, and so yeah, it's another good big meet for them to compete in and be successful, and that builds confidence and that's what we're looking for right now."

Friday's meet was also big for the senior gymnasts on the team, as it was the final home meet of this season and of their high school careers.

One of the team's seniors this year is Hali Bullerman, a standout gymnast who has dazzled throughout her career and consistently placed at the top of all-around competitions. Friday was no different as she scored a career-high 37.9 in the all-around and was first in all four events.

"It meant a lot to be able to compete for the final time (at home) with my team," said the Adrian High School senior. "I love competing with my team here, it's just, the atmosphere is so much better than away meets. You get to compete on your own equipment that you practice on every day. It's really fun and all the crowd goes wild and it's really great."

Bullerman scored 9.25 on the uneven bars, 9.375 on the vault, a career-high 9.7 on the balance beam and 9.575 on the floor exercise. She attributes a lot of her success throughout this season and her career to the support of her teammates.

"I think a lot of it is my teammates," Bullerman said. "When somebody's down, somebody comes and picks them up, if you're having a bad day anyone will go up to you and just pick you up and cheer you up. And I think that's a big thing because without teammates, you wouldn't have somebody to pick you up on your bad days."

The Trojans started the meet on the bars and senior Addison Gerber and junior Jordis Weber each scored 8, which tied for third in the event. Eighth-grader Brooklyn Dykstra scored 7.9 and freshman Claire Meyer scored 7.8. Placing second behind Bullerman on the bars was Hannah Cole of Martin County Area with 8.425. As far as the team score for the Trojans, the bars was their lowest of the four events with 33.15.

Up next came the vault, Worthington's second highest-scoring event of the meet with 36.375. Cole tied Bullerman's first-place score for MCA with 9.375. Gerber placed second with a score of 9.125 and Dykstra was third with a score of 9.1. Seventh-grader Marly Phonsatry scored a solid 8.775 for a fifth-place finish and junior Kenadie Thiner was seventh with 8.475.

On the beam, the Trojans suffered a couple of falls, but still scored a 35.55. Cole again placed second for the MCA Magic with 9.1. Gerber scored 8.75 and Dykstra scored 8.65 to place second and third respectively. Thiner had a score of 8.45 and Weber had a score of 8.325.

Like it often is at a Trojans gymnastics meet, the floor exercise was the final event for them. The ever-consistent Gerber, who like Bullerman has excelled throughout her gymnastics career, impressed once again on the floor. She scored a 9.525 to narrowly place second behind Bullerman.

Cole and Lillie Schultz of Martin County Area each scored 9 to tie for third. Dykstra was fourth with 8.85, Freshman Lucy Their placed sixth with 8.5 and Thiner tied for seventh with 8.425. The Trojans' team score was the highest out of the four events with 36.45.

"I think we had really good performances. I think we have some places where we need to work on but you know, that's gymnastics. Nothing's perfect, nobody's perfect," Reitmeier said. "We had some falls that we wish we could take back, so we need to just get back there and do that. (An) uncharacteristic miss on bars, a couple of beam falls and a couple of vault falls. Even on floor we had a fall so I mean, we still scored really well considering that and that's why it's a team effort. The girls went out there and when one wasn't as successful as she wanted to be, the other one backed her up. I think we did that really well today and so I appreciate that."

Placing second following Bullerman's 37.9 in the all-around was Cole with 35.9. Gerber and Dykstra followed in third and fourth place respectively, with Gerber scoring 35.4 and Dykstra scoring 34.5. Schultz scored 34.3 for fifth place.

With the Big South championship now behind them, the Trojans now get ready for the Section 3A tournament, which is Feb. 17 at Windom High School. A win there would send the Trojans to state for the 10th consecutive year. The Class A State tournament will be Feb. 23-24 at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul.

"I think we're right where we want to be...," Reitmeier said. "We got some of these inexperienced girls, inexperienced meaning on the varsity level, and they're starting to get a little more comfortable. You can tell in their performances they're starting to gain a little more confidence and the older girls, more experienced girls, are really rallying around them. So I think we're right where we want to be and we have some work to do but like I said, at the section meet hopefully it all comes together just like it's supposed to."