Freshman gymnast makes historyWhen the gymnastics season began, Giselle Sziron was under doctor’s orders not to practice or compete on the balance beam. The Superior High School freshman had suffered stress fractures in her lower back about nine months before and couldn’t risk aggravating the injury.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
When the gymnastics season began, Giselle Sziron was under doctor’s orders not to practice or compete on the balance beam. The Superior High School freshman had suffered stress fractures in her lower back about nine months before and couldn’t risk aggravating the injury.
So Sziron stayed well away from the balance beam. She focused instead on her vault, bar and floor routines, earning high marks on all three.
By the end of the regular season, Sziron was consistently earning marks in the 8.500 range for all three events. That drew the attention of head coach Heidi Larsen and assistant coach Lynda Ritsche, and they began talking to Sziron about making an attempt at all four events to try for an all-around state berth.
Sziron had only three days before the sectional meet in Stevens Point to put together and learn a balance beam routine, but she stepped onto the apparatus for this first time in months and went to work.
“It was all last minute,” Sziron said. “My whole team and my coaches were actually encouraging me to do beam at sectionals.”
At the Feb. 24 sectional meet, Sziron nailed her beam routine, earning a 10th-place finished with a score of 8.400.
“I was really nervous,” Sziron said. “I was shocked I got such a good score.”
She also scored an 8.300 on the vault and assured herself of a trip to state in at least one event by taking fifth on floor with a 8.725. The top five gymnasts in each individual event and the all-around advance to state.
Still in contention for an all-around berth, Sziron went into her final event — the uneven bars. Sziron had a strong routine, but near the end she slipped off the bar and finished with a 7.725 score.
The fall dropped the freshman into eighth in the all-around standings.
“She would have been fourth all-around had she not fallen,” Ritsche said. “But I think it’s good for her because it gives her something to work for (next year).”
As it is, Sziron has already made school history by advancing to state in floor. She is the first freshman from SHS ever to qualify for the state gymnastics meet.
The last time a Spartan gymnast competed in the state meet was 2007, when Kerri Ritsche advanced in the all-around. Ritsche also went to state as a sophomore and junior, but she missed the cut by one-hundredth of a point her freshman year.
“She reminds me so much of Kerri,” Lynda Ritsche said of Sziron. “She’s very graceful, but you can tell how much she wants it.”
Lynda Ritsche, Kerri’s mother, said what enables Sziron to compete at a higher level is her dedication and true love of gymnastics.
“She is a hard worker, and she’s very humble,” Ritsche said. “She’s never missed a practice. She works from the beginning to the end, and she never asks to go home early.”
Sziron also doesn’t back down from a challenge.
After her back injury last year, Sziron was forced away from gymnastic completely. For months, she wasn’t allowed to turn so much as a cartwheel while she waited for her injury to mend.
When she was cleared to begin training again, Sziron had to put in long hours to regain her skills and prepare for her first season with the varsity team.
Now Sziron is back in top form and is looking forward to what is likely to be the first of many trips to the Wisconsin state gymnastics tournament.
“You need to really love gymnastics to do what we all do,” Sziron said. “You have to have your whole heart in it.”
The 2012 WIAA State Gymnastics Meet begins today with individual competition at the Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln Fieldhouse.