A small Loveland gymnastics team ready to compete – Loveland Reporter-Herald


As high school gymnastics season begins in Colorado, Loveland coach Jessica Toomey is experiencing what she calls a “new dynamic” with her team, which incorporates gymnastics from all schools in the Thompson School District. .

A program that had 25 gymnasts just four years ago started the season last weekend with just seven. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, according to Toomey.

“This year we are small but mighty,” Toomey said. “We have seven girls in the team, which is relatively smaller than we have been in recent years, so it’s a new dynamic, which is quite fun. The girls are getting very close to each other , which we don’t always see. We’re kind of able to develop a closer bond, which is really cool.

There are two factors to the small size of this year’s squad. First, Toomey said, is that COVID was a challenge and the team has no incoming freshmen this season.

The other is that Roosevelt started his own program, so the athletes the Loveland team used to pull out of the Johnstown area now have their own local team.

“We never had freshmen, which was an interesting fit,” Toomey said. “We are in a year of adjustment, I think. I think this year is just kind of in between and to figure it out and hopefully we have more kids next year. That’s the point.

There are advantages to having a small team, she says. The team has the opportunity to bond more and get closer.

It also allows him to spend more one-on-one time with the athletes rather than having to be with one group while shouting across the gym to another.

“He’s got his upsides for sure,” Toomey said. “I like the energy that a great team brings. But a small team allows them to get closer and bond and less drama, which is important. We can focus a bit more on skill development with them. It’s pretty good in that aspect, I think as a team we have more ability to grow when we have a small squad.

The most experienced gymnast, especially at the state level, and the one with the most accolades is senior Payton Rechkemmer. Rechkemmer burst onto the high school scene as a freshman, earning Athlete of the Year honors across the board. Its second season was supposed to be even better.

But an injury reduced that possibility. Recchkemmer suffered an ankle injury and missed the 2020-21 season, a season already altered due to COVID.

However, she was determined to return. Her junior year showed this as she again jumped near the top of the Class 4A individual standings not only in the all-around, but in three of the four individual events.

“I think I just wanted to have fun especially last year,” Recchkemmer said. “I think it really helped me with what I did towards the end of the year. I was super proud of myself, but I want more. I’m super excited for the end of the season to see how it all pans out. I just want to have fun and not put too much stress on myself and put everything on show. It’s my last season in gymnastics so I don’t want to have any regrets.

At the stadium last season, Recchkemmer finished 10th all-around (35.725). In the individual finals, she finished third on vault (9.575), 13th on floor (9.225), and 14th on uneven bars (8.575).

Toomey expects big things from her best senior, but she wants to make sure she doesn’t overdo it at the start of the season and risk anything before the state meet at the end of the season.

“I think she’s going to give it her all,” Toomey said. “She just wants to give it her all every time, every encounter, every competition. She’s trying to start the season on a really strong foot, which is fantastic and that energy and motivation is really great. Sometimes we have to remind him to slow down, stay healthy, keep a cool head. Let’s go through our routines and get ourselves there.

In addition to Rechkemmer, other team members include senior Elizabeth Thompson, who was on the team as a rookie and returned for her senior year. Thompson got off to a strong start this season, finishing sixth in the all-around (34.1) in the team’s opener on Saturday. Recchkemmer was first (35.05).

Toomey said Thompson was one to watch.

“I’m definitely a lot more laid back this year,” Thompson said. “In first year, I had to do the eventing in all the competitions, and this senior year, I will do some duels, I will do all the invitations. It’s much more relaxed. The goals so far are simply to do your best in every encounter and then push yourself to do your best.

Loveland gymnast Payton Pritchards practices her floor exercise routine Friday at Loveland High School. (Nathan Wright/Loveland Reporter-Herald)

Jenelle Benedetto, Payton Pritchards, Isabela Navejas and Natalie Treacy will also contribute.

All but Treacy finished in the top 20 over the weekend as Loveland finished third against Mountain Range, Poudre School District and Fort Morgan.

“All are going to contribute,” Toomey said. “Our team scores will be pretty much whatever you see, because they have the top five scores from each event and you can only compete in six. So pretty much what you see is what you get. We’re really going to focus on our routines and get as many bonuses as possible and have a lot of fun.

Last season, Loveland was the ninth and final team to enter the field for the State 4A meet. Led by Rechkemmer, they finished ninth as a team.

There’s no pressure or high expectations for the team in state, and Toomey said if the team is working hard this season and staying healthy, there’s no reason why the small group cannot return there this year.

“I really think they can do it,” Toomey said. “They’re going to have to all work together and work really hard in the gym. They certainly have the ability to do it as a team. It’s early. I don’t know what the other teams look like so far this year, so I can’t say for sure, but I can say they are in contention to go state.


Comments are closed.