Saturday’s WIAA Div. 2 Individual State Gymnastics Meet didn’t go exactly as planned for Baraboo High School’s Jamie Runnels and Brittany Reuter, but the duo left the Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln Fieldhouse with their heads held high.
After a last-minute decision to take safer approaches to their performances, Runnels and Reuter recorded lower scores than average on the vault and the uneven bars. Runnels, who was hoping to unveil a brand new vault at the state meet called the Suk, went back to her reliable front handspring vault. After a somewhat wobbly landing in the first attempt, Runnels stuck her landing on the second try which gave her a score of 8.3. The sophomore, who will now switch her focus to competing for the track and field team in the spring, said her decision to tone down her vault was a no-brainer.
“I didn’t get to do the Suk, because I didn’t want to risk getting hurt,” Runnels said. “But I’m happy with what I did.”
Baraboo High School gymnastics coach Tammy Porter agreed with Runnels’ decision.
“It was a good call. (The Suk) is beautiful, I can vouch for that and it would have scored really well. But I agree with her, a big pressure meet I don’t think she would have gotten it up and around.”
Runnels’ score gave her a 23rd place finish on the vault. Whitefish Bay’s Aly Yurkowitz took the title with a 9.483.
“I would have liked to see it higher obviously, she had an 8.7 last year,” said Porter on Runnels’ score. “But we came into it anticipating it to be lower because (the judges have) been nailing her on it all year.”
Reuter meanwhile, had a rare fall during her uneven bars routine and was unable to find a clean finish on her layout flyaway which gave her a score of 6.733.
“It’s uncharacteristic of her to fall on that, she hasn’t fallen on that since probably way back when she was in seventh grade,” said Porter on Reuter. “But you know, big meet, and she didn’t really work a routine all week because we wanted to do giants with her this week and it didn’t happen the way we wanted it to (on Friday).”
Reuter’s score landed her in 26th place, while Yurkowitz took first with a 9.433. Porter has no doubt Reuter’s performance will only motivate her to improve next season.
“The hard part with her is she’s a perfectionist and is really hard on herself. So she’s kicking herself, I know she is but overall she said she had a good time and definitely knows what to expect next year.”
The future of the Baraboo High School gymnastics team looks bright. Runnels will be on the team for two more years while Reuter, a freshman, is just getting started. While the duo will most likely see the state competition once again, Porter hopes her entire team can do so as well. The T-Birds were just two points shy of qualifying as a team this season.
“I’m just really proud of both of them,” said Porter after Saturday’s meet. “I’m glad we made the return trip and hopefully next year we’ll be coming back with the team.”