Up in the Air

Emmalyn Meyer, Writer

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Yana Weir (11) salutes the vault judges, sticking her hands in the air and taking a deep breath. She concentrates on the run in front of her, inhales again, and begins a sprint down the runway. When she hits the springboard and flies into the air, performing a half-on-full-off, a move that combines a half onto the horse (the vaulting apparatus) and a full twist off of the horse. It’s almost perfect, but not quite. When she falls, she lands on the edge of the mat and feels excruciating pain in her leg and foot. They’re both broken, and she’s out for the rest of the season, possibly longer.
In addition to dealing with injuries from last season, the Homestead gymnastics team lost a few talented seniors; however, it has remained consistent and strong, and each gymnast has worked to improve her skills and attain high scores at every meet. Weir believes that, despite a few rough patches at the beginning, the gymnasts are improving, and their progress shows in competition.
“(This year), we started off pretty well with decent scores, and we’ve just been climbing and getting better throughout the season,” Weir said. “There have been a lot of skills we’ve been working on, as well as the difficulty.”
Weir, who has placed well at many dual and invitational meets, including first place on beam at the Marion Invitational, is recovering from an injury that kept her out of the gym all summer. She broke her tibia, foot and wrist when vaulting and has still not fully recovered. Her teammate, Nadia Barron (10), was injured as well.
“I dislike how dangerous it is,” Weir said. “I don’t like the idea of getting hurt again. We’re not where we would have been if (Barron and I) hadn’t been injured.”
Malia Metelues (11) feels similarly about the difficulty of the sport, and feels that an injury affects every gymnast on the team, even if the injury is not their own. She recognizes the risk of gymnastics as well, knowing that “gymnastics can sometimes take a toll on (her) body, and it is easy to sprain, break or tear things.”
However, many gymnasts love the challenges that gymnastics brings, and that is the reason they continue to push through the pain and continue to improve. Catherine Milne (11) is one such gymnast.
“I like the challenge of gymnastics,” Milne said. “It is challenging both physically and psychologically, but the sense of getting a new skill or hitting a routine really well makes it all worth it.”
However, despite the many impediments, the gymnasts are confident in their abilities. They have had a few recent victories, including a win at the Marion Invitational, where the team took first for the fourth consecutive year.
“We won Marion for the fourth consecutive year,” Weir said. “This year we were pretty nervous about keeping that record, but we did win and that was a good confidence boost.”
This victory gave the gymnasts the confidence that they needed to do well at sectionals. On Feb 24 the team placed third at the sectional meet, with Milne taking first place in bars and floor, and Weir placing fourth in floor.
“I think we can definitely get to state if we just keep working on our skills and figure out the tiny things we get deductions from,” Weir said.
The team believes that gymnastics is a unique sport because there is both mental and physical pressure, along with a strong focus on team bonding.
“I think gymnastics is really different, because you have to focus on every aspect of your body, and it’s a very mental sport,” Metelues said. “You have to be willing to put 100% into everything, or else it won’t work, or you’ll hurt yourself, or you’ll fall.”

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