Middleton gymnasts aiming high

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Katherine Marshall and Middleton’s girls gymnastics team has high hopes this season./File photo

Kari Steck would make one heck of a poker player.

Middleton’s girls gymnastics coach never tips her hand. And Steck always keeps her cards close to the vest.

When discussing goals and possibilities each and every season, Steck is more Bill Belichick than Rex Ryan.

“As always, the end goal in mind is for the girls to have a memorable and healthy season,” Steck said. “If that includes a Big Eight championship and a trip to state, we’ll be happy. However, it’s more important to me that the girls grow as young women and as a team.”

Don't be surprised if all of the above happen.

That’s become the norm under Steck.

Middleton has qualified for state each of Steck’s first four seasons, highlighted by a fourth place finish in 2014 and a fifth place finish last year.

The Cardinals were also second in both the Big Eight Conference’s regular season and postseason tournament last year. Middleton then won its own sectional.

These Cardinals could have the makings for another special season.

Junior Madeline Pflasterer-Jennerjohn is one of the top gymnasts in the state. Last season, Pflasterer-Jennerjohn finished ninth at state in the all-around after finishing 20th as a freshman.

Pflasterer-Jennerjohn was 11th on the uneven bars at state (8.817), 12th on the floor (9.067) and 16th on the vault (9.217). She also scored a 9.0 on the beam.

Senior Katherine Marshall is another all-arounder who competed in three events at state last year. Sophomores Eleanor Mackey and Chloe Young are two other experienced all-arounders poised for big seasons.

“This group of upperclassmen are incredible leaders,” Steck said. “We have a very large team this year, so I’ll really be looking for these young women to step up and lead the underclassmen and newcomers. I have complete faith that they will succeed in doing this. Our returnees are a pretty incredible group of young women.”

Steck likes her newcomers quite a bit, as well.

Freshman Jordan Baggot was a standout club gymnast who could make an immediate impact.

“She is young but has a lot of potential,” Steck said.

Junior Madleine Ace is new to the sport, but has flashed early.

“Madeline is an incredible athlete, and a track and cross country standout,” Steck said. “She’s new to the gymnastics world, but you can’t teach athleticism and body awareness like she has.”

Senior Ellen Cottingham was on the team two years ago, but took a break due to injuries. Now, she’s back and hoping to shine in her final season.

“She’s returning, ready to make a splash in high school as a senior,” Steck said.

Steck’s teams have made quite a splash during her first four years on the job. Steck may not make the bold proclamations others will, but don’t be surprised if the 2015-’16 Cardinals shine as bright as their predecessors.

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