Brynn Olson, Jaci Newman, and Sawyer Gorman

February 21, 2018 07:57 PM

(ABC 6 News) – The Pine Island-Zumbrota/Mazeppa Panther Gymnastics team is heading to state this weekend, and it’s three close friends who’ve helped pave the way for the Panthers.

“They’re very good listeners, they make the corrections you ask them to make, and they try to do what you’re trying to tell them to do,” Panthers head coach Chris Templeton said.


They, whom Templeton is referring to, are freshmen Jaci Newman and Sawyer Gorman, and senior Brynn Olson—a group of “perfectionists.”

“All of them can be a bit of a perfectionist,” Templeton said. “Sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s not so good.”

“We all have big goals for ourselves and we know how hard we work and what we can achieve with the work we put in,” Gorman added. “If it’s not right, we’ll do it again three more times to make sure we have it down and hope for the best in the meet.”

In the Section 1A Gymnastics Meet this past weekend in Rochester, in total, Newman, Gorman, and Olson finished in the top six in the Vault, Uneven Bars, Floor, Beam, and the All-Around.

“They’ve been doing this for a long time,” Templeton said. “They started in second, third grade, then they were on club teams.”

“We know we can do this, and we just need to stay calm and do what we need to do,” Newman added.

With the win, a school other than Austin will be representing Section 1 at the Class A state gymnastics meet for the first time since 2010.

Newman, who will be going in the all-around after qualifying for state in the Vault (9.375), Bars (8.775), Beam (9.35), and Floor (9.625), will be making her second straight appearance at the Class A state meet.

“You just have to feed off the crowd and kind of absorb it,” Newman said. “You can’t overthink it and stay calm and just enjoy yourself while you’re out there because it happens only once a year.”

Newman’s teammate and fellow freshman Gorman is also heading to state in the all-around—she qualified for state in the Vault (9.425), Bars (8.75), Beam (8.9), and Floor (9.55). For Gorman, this weekend will be her third-straight state appearance.

“It’s very loud,” Gorman said. “There’s a lot of people cheering, but if you stay focused, it’s super fun. Whatever happens, happens. I know what I’m doing because I’ve been training hard all year, so I just do what I know what to do.”

Olson, who’s heading to the Class A state meet in the Vault (9.35), Bars (8.55), and Floor (9.375), is the senior leader. She’s been in high school gymnastics for four years and has previously been to state twice individually, but she still admits she gets jitters during meets.

“I get really, really nervous,” Olson said. “When you’re on beam, you can’t be nervous, you have to be as aggressive as possible. On floor and vault, when you need as much power as possible, you’re adrenaline gets up, it can be good.”

“When I actually get out there, I’m fine. The nerves kind of go away and I just do what I do, and that’s the easy part.”

For Olson, this weekend will be her last career high school gymnastics meet—and it’ll be a time of reflection for her.

“Brynn is like my best friend,” Newman said. “She’s a great leader on our team and a huge part of our success. It’s going to stink not having her here next year. She’s an important part of my life.”

“When I came into high school gymnastics, I didn’t know what to expect,” Olson said. “I was kind of shy and I kind of did my own thing, and now that I’m a part of this huge thing, it’s made me grow as a person and as a leader.”

Newman, Gorman, and Olson all said they want to “have fun” at the state meet on Friday and Saturday. The Class A and Class AA gymnastics meet will be held at Maturi Pavilion at the University of Minnesota.


Sean Tehan

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