Chelsea Wieland’s gymnastics world turned upside down following a freak cheerleading accident her sophomore year.
Wieland was performing a jump at a Columbus North football game when the girl next to her accidentally kicked her feet out from under her. Wieland fell on her arm, dislocating her elbow.
A club gymnast since the age of 7, Wieland decided the routines of high school gymnastics would be easier on her body.
“That’s kind of what made me decide to do high school gymnastics because there’s more opportunities and there’s more room to adjust than there is in club,” said Wieland, now a senior. “So high school gymnastics really helped me get back on my feet after that injury, and I’ve just stuck with it since then.”
Wieland still did a couple of club meets that sophomore year and one last season; but she will focus strictly on high school meets this season, which begins with a meet tonight against Bloomington North. She has helped the Bull Dogs to state finals appearances each of the past two years.
“She really, really has trained like crazy to come back from that injury,” North coach Sandy Freshour said.
Wieland finished eighth in the all-around competition at last year’s Columbus East Regional and tied for 29th at state. Her best event is the beam, where she tied for fourth in last year’s East Sectional with an 8.975.
“It just comes natural to me because I like kind of graceful stuff rather than powerful stuff,” Wieland said. “That’s just kind of my strength. I struggle with bars because I’ve had a lot of elbow issues throughout the years, and it’s been a struggle to come back after each injury.”
“She’s an incredible dancer,” Freshour said. “She’s very, very aesthetically beautiful on floor and beam; and in terms of all-around as a gymnast, it’s her work ethic and stick-to-itness that’s pretty impressive.”
That work ethic also pays off in the classroom, where she is a straight-A student, and in track and field, where she is a state qualifier in the pole vault. After missing out on qualifying for state on a tiebreaker as a sophomore, Wieland made it last year and tied for 17th.
“My pole vaulting coach (Dale Stelting) coached gymnastics, too, so it’s easy for us to relate,” Wieland said. “He’ll say ‘Oh, it’s like this skill. That’s what you need to do to make the motion.’ He can relate and make me understand what I need to do with my body to make it higher. Also, I just have more body awareness being upside down from gymnastics, and I know a lot of the girls that did pole vaulting were gymnasts.”
Wieland began her high school track career as a sprinter and hurdler before picking up the pole vault midway through her freshman year.
“Halfway through the season, I was like ‘Hey, pole vaulting looks fun,’ and I just decided to hop in and started doing that. I had a good season my freshman year, so I did it again sophomore year. That was kind of a struggle, and then junior year was even more of a struggle because we didn’t really have that much of a coaching staff for pole vaulting, but it ended up turning out well.”
Last year, Wieland cleared 10 feet, 6 inches. The school record is 11-3.
“I’d really like to place at state,” Wieland said. “It’s my goal to hopefully break the school record. It’s possible if I can fix some things in my run and plant and stuff.”
Wieland is looking at possibly pole vaulting at University of Indianapolis, Stelting’s alma mater. She also is looking at Kentucky and Indiana University.
But first, Wieland hopes to help lead the Bull Dogs to sectional and regional titles and another trip to Muncie for the state finals.
“I would really like us to go to state because I’ve been to state every year, and that would be really cool, especially since it’s my senior year,” Wieland said. “I’m excited because I’ve done gymnastics with a lot of these girls for a long time. It’s also my senior year, so it’s a good chance to step up and be a leader and just have some fun.”
“She is one of the best leaders I have had in my 33 years as coach,” Freshour said. “The way she leads by example, the way she cares for all of the girls on our team; and the work ethic, there is none better. She is every coach’s dream as a mentor to young athletes.”
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