The 2020-2021 season has been far from normal for the Kenston Gymnastics Team. The team had to overcome many challenges this year. In the fall, it was unknown if the season would even happen. The number of COVID-19 cases continued to grow, and although fall sports occurred, winter sports faced a different issue. Winter sports were held indoors, making it more difficult to follow COVID-19 guidelines. After sports seasons being cancelled for months, the athletes badly wanted to have a season. This season, more than ever, students were grateful for the opportunity to do the sport they love. Thankfully due to the cooperation of the coaches and athletes, Kenston’s gymnastics season was allowed to occur. A member of the Kenston Gymnastics Team, Nikki Nelson, elaborates on the team’s historic season in an interview.
The team started officially practicing in November. During the preseason, the gymnastics team worked on getting new skills to put into their routines. Now that season was quickly approaching, the gymnasts started working on putting together their routines and building up their endurance. In early December, the team had a mock meet. Nelson stated that “the mock meet was a great way to start the season because of how it prepared us to have fun and enjoy ourselves while competing”. The team’s first competition was a week later.
Around the same time, the Western Reserve Conference cancelled all in-conference sporting events. Although this did not heavily impact the sport of gymnastics, it made all athletes aware of the fragility of their seasons. Another major issue during the season was missing members of the team from contact-tracing. The line up had to be adapted many times. “I think in the end, it made us stronger as a team because any one of us could have to compete at any time, and it made us realize how careful we all had to be if we wanted to have a season” Nelson said. Another adversity the team faced was that no spectators were allowed in the regular season competitions. Usually, the team uses the crowd to help them perform. However, the team could not do so this season. Nelson thinks that one of the hardest parts of the season was not having fans. Ultimately, she believes that it brought the team closer together because they had to rely on one another for support and encouragement. As the season went on, the team continued to set new school records competition after competition.
After winning the Western Reserve Conference Championships for the second time, the team moved onto the postseason. The first postseason meet was Sectionals. The team finished first at Sectionals and had five individual competitors qualify for the district competition. This was the second year that Kenston had attended the district competition. The team was gaining more and more recognition outside of the gymnastics community. Nelson recalls how “it was very rewarding to see our team be recognized for all of our hard work and achievements”. At Districts, the team placed second and qualified for the State Championships for the first time in Kenston history. Nelson recalls hearing the news and that “the whole team was in tears of happiness”.
The team finished off their historic season at the OHSAA Gymnastics State Championships on March 5th at Hilliard Bradley High School. The team performed at the best of their abilities, and set a new school record with a team score of 146.450. That score earned them the title of state runner-up. The team had their goals set on just qualifying for the state championship, so the team was very happy with their final standings. The following morning, Kenston had three competitors compete in the individual championships. The State Championship was Nelson’s favorite part of the season because of “how rewarding it was to see all our hard work pay off”.
Through many challenges, Kenston gymnastics managed to accomplish many things throughout their 2020-2021 season. Ultimately, the team was brought closer together and were more successful because of it. The Kenston Gymnastics Team made a name for themselves this season, and will hopefully have many more successful seasons to come.