Malden High’s Gymnastics team ended 2017 on a good note, as they competed in a tri-meet event against Medford and Winthrop on December 29th. The team placed second, behind Winthrop and beating Medford. The rest of the season for Malden High’s Gymnastics team seems promising, due to the many highlights in their first meet.
Although the first meet was a success, coach Katie Bowdridge admitted that the first meet of the season “is always the toughest”, since the gymnasts try to learn how to “incorporate the new skills or the new routines”, and making sure to “keep strong form to minimize deductions”. The gymnastics team only had three weeks to get ready and create six routines for three events. Bowdridge said that the team was “nervous” because it was the first meet of the season, and “[they had] six gymnasts competing that had never competed in Gymnastics before”. Although the team certainly had challenges, Bowdridge said that she is “proud of the way [the gymnasts] carried themselves and competed”.
On the highlights of the meet, Senior Captain Kaytlin Kwong recalled that one of the best moments “after [their] last routine happened”. The team was “excited about completing [their] first meet and doing well”. Junior Tyler Risteen said that one of the best parts about competing is when “the meet is over” because “all of the nerves are gone”. For Bowdridge, the best moment of the meet is “the amazing encouragement that [MHS competing gymnasts] received from [new team members] that are still getting competition ready”. The Gymnastics team has a total of thirty-five gymnasts, and because there is only six slots available on each event and returning gymnasts competing on multiple events, “many of the first-year gymnasts will not have the chance to compete this year, but that has not stopped them from working hard every day and being there to support their teammates”. Bowdridge said that one of the fun things about working out in a small gym is that “[the team] earns all of the routines because [they] see them so much”, so everyone knows when a “tough skill or a fun dance pass is coming up”, so they can “encourage each other at those points in the routine.” She added that “to have your teammates cheering you on and encouraging you can be a huge inspiration for those competing.”
For those who had amazing performances, Kwong sited Senior Raymond Jiang as one of them, who only joined the team this year. Jiang competed on two of the four events and did “really well on all of them”, according to Kwong. “[His] bars are amazing, and [he had] so much power on vault”, Kwong said. Bowdridge asserted this, saying that Jiang had a great performance, especially on bars in his first competition with an impressive 7.05. Both Bowdridge and Risteen stated that Kwong had an amazing performance as well. Risteen says that Kwong excelled on “the floor”, since she got the highest score for the day, which was a 9.1, according to Bowdridge. Bowdridge added that “[the team] modified [Kwong’s] routine a little bit to improve the difficulty level, so [she] now receives full credit on bonuses.”
To Kwong, now that the team has their nerves “taken care of”, she believes that the team will improve since they “[will not] be as nervous”. She added that the team is already working more on cleaning up routines and improving their skills for coming meets. Bowdridge said that the Gymnastics team are “working new skills everyday”, especially the ones the team hopes to incorporate into competition for future meets. One of the areas that they need to improve on, according to Bowdridge, is beam. She stated that beam is “always a tough event”, due to how physical and intricate the skill is. She explained that “[she is] asking the gymnasts to jump, turn and go upside down on a 4-inch surface.”
Bowdridge mentioned that “there is also a new rule about having to do a forward/sideways and a backward skill that there has not been in the past”. With this new rule in place, almost everyone needed to learn a new backward skill to fulfill the requirement, as Bowdridge explains that “since most of [the team] only had cartwheels on the beam”. Not only does the team have to learn new skills, but they have to adjust to a new level of difficulty to their bar routines, for the purpose of having higher start values. Bowdridge stated that “[their] goal as a team and for each individual is to score higher than the last meet.” Nevertheless, Malden High’s gymnastics team remains adamant that they are going to continue working new skills in practice until they are confident in them.