Girls gymnastics ‘vaults’ the school record


Christina Raquel (10) and Sarah Gutowski (10) practice on bars in preparation for State

   It’s rare for high school students to make history, but the girls varsity gymnastics team made it look like light work this year. 

   In late February, the team qualified for state and placed 2nd overall with a score of 146.7. The last time VHHS’s girls gymnastics team qualified for state was more than 20 years ago in 2001.

   The team consists of six elite gymnasts: Livy Tran (9), Annika Chudy (10), Jessica DeLorm (11), Becca Tran (11), Josie Daniels (12) and Shihori Takenaka (12). 

   Two athletes, Tran and Chudy, placed individually. Chudy placed 3rd on the balance beam and 5th overall. Tran made history by becoming the fourth individual state champ from VHHS and the first freshman athlete from VHHS to win 1st place in any state athletic competition, winning 1st in the vault. 

   “I am really proud of myself,” said Tran about her state victory. “My team was super helpful and had a lot of energy that helped me perform my best. I think it is cool that I am just a freshman, so I can look forward to the next three years.

   The team’s unique skill set stems from the athletes’ lifelong experiences with gymnastics and club teams. However, athletes like DeLorm chose to pursue school gymnastics over club gymnastics because of the contrasting cultures of the two.

  “High school is more about the team aspect, and club is more individual,” said DeLorm. “High school is just a lot more fun because you’re competing as a team, and you’re all cheering each other on and supporting each other.”

  The road to state was a challenging yet exciting one, according to the team. The gymnasts used mock competitions and set personal goals for practices in order to prepare. 

   “A lot of practices are fun, some are stressful, but we all worked really, really hard because we wanted to be successful,” said Tran. 

   The team’s passion and desire to improve also dynamically impacted practices. 

   “We’re really motivated and spirited. I know we work hard, and everybody wants to be in the gym,” said Takenaka.

   As for their routines, many of the gymnasts agree that staying calm and collected is important to remember for warm-ups and competitions. Both physical and mental balance is necessary for the gymnasts to succeed.

   “Always remember to take a couple of deep breaths, especially during floor routines, because you can get winded,” said DeLorm. “And just really rely on your team because they’re always going to be there for you, and they have your back.”

   Tran’s immense success is proof of her ability to maintain level-headedness throughout the pressure of competitive meets. 

   “I learned that I get really stressed during those big meets, and I know that I should calm down because it’s not the hugest deal,” she said.

   Staying healthy and uninjured kept the team at elite levels of competition, and DeLorm attributes the team’s success to its diversity in age and skill level, with the team including an athlete from every grade. The gymnasts also agree that the team’s bond was a large factor in their success this year. 

  “We are just like a family,” said Chudy. “We’re all so close. That definitely helps when it comes to competition and stress and helping each other improve.”

   Great coaching provided by Coach Caton and Coach Egan also played a major role in the team’s victories, according to DeLorm.

   Tran also mentioned how much the team has progressed throughout the season, even breaking the school’s previous record of 148.65 with a new high score of 149.05. She is also hopeful about the continued success of the girls gymnastics program in the coming years. 

   “We are losing some important seniors this year, so I am hoping we can find some new teammates so we can keep progressing as a team,” she said. “I also hope gymnastics gets maybe a little more recognition as we have been improving, but I am already so grateful for the nice comments this year.”

   Though the girls ultimately garnered success through their determination, hard work and passion, the silver lining is the lasting impact of their bond as a team. 

   “I don’t know if I can specifically name [a favorite memory] because the season has honestly been my favorite gymnastics season,” said DeLorm.