Madelynn Nagel cheering Jays on from the sidelines this weekend
Madelynn Nagel, a gymnast for the JHS gymnastics team, won't be able to compete due to injuries.
JAMESTOWN — A little over a month ago, at a run-of-the-mill practice session, eighth grader Madelynn Nagel did something that not many gymnasts have done before.
"I had landed a front flip and hyper-extended both my knees and when they bent, my femur and tibia hit each other and fractured in both legs," Madelynn said. "At first, I didn’t know they were fractured so I kept practicing on bars and some on beam, but once I figured it out, I was told not to do anything."
It was, quite literally, a tough break for the first-year varsity gymnast.
"It is certainly not common to break both legs in gymnastics," JHS head gymnastics coach Bre Carlson said. "We actually don’t have as many injuries as many may think. Gymnastics can be a very dangerous sport but with the use of mats, pits and drills we try our best to lower any risk of injury.
"She actually got hurt doing a skill she has had for years, it was just luck of the draw - or maybe unluck of the draw in this case."
Prior to fracturing both of her legs, Madelynn, a co-op gymnast out of Pingree-Buchahan was well on her way to competing at the 2023 Class A State Meet which was a definite improvement to her "season" last year.
"Last year she made the team after tryouts and due to an error somewhere along the line, her school’s co-op did not go through and she wasn’t able to participate," Carlson said. "She was super excited this year when everything was lined up correctly and she could be on our high school team. Hopefully, next year can be her year."
Carlson said before suffering the season-ending injury, Madelynn was very steady, consistent and reliable on the balance beam. On vault, she was averaging 8.350.
Madelynn said in all of her years in gymnastics, she has never had an injury as bad as two fractured legs before.
"I’m still on crutches (but) I am able to start doing some bars at practice which is difficult with the braces now," she said. "I will hopefully be able to compete next season."
While the injury has taken a toll on the eighth grader mentally, Madelynn said in the last six weeks she has learned how to not take things like practices for granted and is learning how to make the best out of any situation, which for her, looks like cheering on her teammates at the final meet of the season.
Blue Jays preparing for 2023 State Meet
The rest of the Blue Jays will be competing at the 2023 State Gymnastics Meet this weekend at Jamestown High School. The Blue Jays are ranked third as a team, with an average score of 137.650.
Jamestown placed third at last week's West Region Meet, scoring 140.900.
"The team has been super motivated this week," Carlson said. "We have been working hard to clean up the little things and perfect our skills. Every tenth counts at the state meet."
The team portion of the state tournament is slated to be held Friday evening. The all-around competition will take place on Saturday.
Dickinson High School is once again the top team entering the state meet, with an average score of 147.877. Century is the No. 2 team scoring an average of 139.764 each meet.
"We dream of winning the state meet but currently Dickinson is eight points ahead of us so realistically, our goal is another second-place finish," Carlson said.
Carlson said it is going to be a tight race between the Jays and Century for second place. The head coach said when teams are only separated by 0.500 points, it typically comes down to who stays on the beam that day or has better execution.
"Minot has also been putting in the work so I wouldn't be surprised if they were in the fight for second and third place," she said. "It’s going to be a nail-biter."
Regardless of how the final scores end up, Carlson said those who wander into Jerry Meyer Arena will be in for a treat.
"The crowd is going to see a lot of really fun gymnastics and a lot of really great teamwork and team spirit," Carlson said. "These girls do a really great job of supporting and motivating each other.
"Some of these girls have been teammates for more than 12 years so they have some pretty special friendships and you can certainly see it," she said. "A lot of the girls are ranked pretty high on some events so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of blue on the podium and maybe even an event winner."
Julia Skari, the Jays' top scorer, is ranked fifth in the all-around while Emma Hillerud, Allysah Larson and Blair Arbuckle are ranked 14th, 21st and 25th, respectively.
"We are proud of our girls and the work they have put in, in and out of season," Carlson said. "To the seniors, I would tell them to really give it their all and leave nothing undone. There is nothing more satisfying than walking off your event for the last time knowing you did everything you could for yourself and for your team."
Hillerud, Arbuckle and Sydney Fisher are the three seniors who will be finishing up their prep gymnastics careers this weekend.
"I told the girls at the beginning of this season that my goal as a head coach at some point in time would be to qualify the whole team for State and these girls almost pulled it off," Carlson said.
"We have 13 of our 16 girls qualified for individual day," she said. "This is also the most state qualifiers Jamestown has ever had. It has been so fun to see how much progress some of these kids have made in the last three months, it should be a fun weekend."