Senior three: JHS seniors prepare for final home meetTwo years ago, Mercedes Westereng stepped off the beam and onto the ice, but it didn’t take her long to find her way back to gymnastics. Westereng, a senior on the Jamestown High School gymnastics team, attended West Fargo High School where she was forced to compete in a different winter sport because gymnastics wasn’t offered.
Two years ago, Mercedes Westereng stepped off the beam and onto the ice, but it didn’t take her long to find her way back to gymnastics.
Westereng, a senior on the Jamestown High School gymnastics team, attended West Fargo High School where she was forced to compete in a different winter sport because gymnastics wasn’t offered.
She wound up picking hockey, but that one year away was enough to make her want to return to JHS and finish out her high school career as a gymnast.
“At first it was kind of hard because I didn’t have all the skills I used to have,” said Westereng of returning to gymnastics. “Once I got halfway through the season, I started getting everything back again. It was nice to come back and start over again.”
Now, she has become one of the more consistent gymnasts for the Blue Jays and recently posted her best all-around score up in Grand Forks. But at the time, her score not only was a personal best, but it was the best of any Blue Jay in quite a while.
“She’s been so steady with high 35s and some 36s,” said JHS coach Dave Tews. “Then she put together that 37.1, and when she hit that 37.1 that was the first time in 11 years we’d had anybody hit a 37. So, that was pretty darn good.”
The always-steady Westereng’s role with the team, however, isn’t just measured with what she does in competition. In fact, all three of the Blue Jay seniors’ impact is greater than just their finishes in duals and meets.
“They do a lot of coaching,” said Tews. “They’re not afraid to work with a kid and say, ‘Try that. Do this,’ It has been things like that that have helped some of the younger ones.”
Ashley Kronebusch and Carly Nelson are the other two seniors on the team, and as they prepare for their final meet in Jamestown, Tews said his three leaders could give Jamestown a treat in their final home meet of their careers.
“They’ve all been doing really well,” said Tews. “I think we can easily say that all three are having their best year as seniors, and that’s all you can ask.”
Kronebusch has typically done most of her scoring in the beam, vault and floor exercise, but in her final go-around with the Blue Jays she has been honing her bars routine and could make some noise in today’s West Region meet at Jamestown High School.
“She has always been very solid on three events, and then bars have been kind of weak for her,” Tews said. “But since Day 1, she has been in the shadow of a lot of kids for a long time. … She isn’t quite like the other seniors where she had that one event that she was really good at as a seventh or eighth-grader, she was kind of even.
“She is a great leader and is great working with younger kids. … She’s just gotten better and better all along.”
Kronebusch finished eighth all around in the Blue Jays’ regular-season finale last week as the Blue Jays set a new school record with a team score of 144.580.
“At our last meet we got our highest team score we ever had,” said Kronebusch, who finished tied for third on the vault. “If we can just carry that performance (into today) I think that would be out ultimate goal.”
Nelson was one of four Blue Jays to finish in the top four all-around in the final meet of the regular season — the other two were Westereng and junior Alex Lind.
“This is our last year as seniors and we’re trying to step it up to have a good end to our season,” Nelson said. “It will also help out the team. We got our highest score in our last meet, so hopefully we can match that or do better.”
Tews said he is hoping the team can finish in the top three at today’s meet, and having a hometown crowd in support can help the Blue Jays in reaching that goal.
“I think it benefits us a lot,” said Kronebusch. “We all like competing at the high school gym better than our own (gymnastics) gym, so I think it will definitely be to our advantage,”
Jamestown has already qualified for state as a team, so there is no pressure to qualify in today’s meet. But for the seniors, this will be the final home meet of their high school careers, so the pressure of closing out the chapter on a high note is still weighing in.
“All they have to do is do what they’ve been doing over the last month and that would be great,” Tews said of his seniors.