With only one full-time varsity gymnast returning from last year, Columbus East’s hopes at a return trip to the state finals looked to be a longshot at the beginning of the season.
But thanks to the addition of a pair of talented freshmen, the Olympians are back in the state finals. Becca Bryan and Seena Greiwe teamed with seniors Samantha Rose and juniors Jaycie Jaggers and Olivia Frownfelter to give East a runner-up finish in its own regional Friday.
“It was a great feeling,” Bryan said. “We were just hoping to move on to state, but to get second, it was really exciting.”
Bryan has been the Olympians’ top gymnast from Day 1. She finished second in the all-around competition in both the sectional and regional. She won the floor exercise at the regional.
Greiwe was the team’s No. 2 gymnast at the beginning of the season and has been No. 3 behind Bryan and Jaggers lately. Greiwe finished 15th in the all-around in the regional.
“We wanted to contribute, and helping them make it to state was great,” Greiwe said.
“It put some pressure on us, knowing that we had to step up,” Bryan said. “I was hoping to just help out the team, but helping them get to state was nice.”
Both gymnasts come from club backgrounds at Jody’s Gymnastics Zone and Victory Gymnastics Academy. Bryan was the state all-around champion the past two years, first at the Xcel Gold (transition from Level 6 to 7) and last year at Level 7.
“It will help me kind of keep in the mindset that I have to focus and keep doing great,” Bryan said.
Greiwe reached Level 8 before taking a year off from competition.
“All my skills mostly came back to me,” Greiwe said. “It was just that on bars and beam, that was the hardest. I know what it’s going to feel like to go to state because I went every year that I did (club) gymnastics.”
Gary Stam, owner and head coach at Victory Gymnastics Academy, worked with Bryan and Greiwe before they began competing in high school gymnastics.
“Becca is very talented, a very good dancer,” Stam said. “Becca was just getting to start to do the bigger skills, but her dance and her presentation and her confidence when she competes, she does a good job.
“Seena is a very strong gymnast,” he said. “She’s a very good tumbler. She had problems with her flexibility, but her strengths were her muscle strength and her good tumbling.”
East coach Nancy Kirshman realizes the value of the club experience that her freshmen have brought to the Olympians.
“The people out at Victory have trained them well,” Kirshman said. “They’ve had exposure to big meets, they’ve worked on top-notch skills and everything. They’ve done a good job of continuing to work on skills that we needed to improve on. We’ll go forth once this (state) meet is over and continue to work on even more skills.
“Most of those skills that we’re working on, with the exception of a few, are things that they’ve done in the past,” she said. “We haven’t changed a whole lot of things. We’ve added a few new skills here and there, but nothing extreme.”
Bryan and Greiwe said the competition level the past two weeks has been more like what they were used to at the club level.
“It wasn’t as nerve-racking when (the regular-season meets) were at our school because there weren’t as many teams or as many people there,” Greiwe said. “As we got into sectional and regional, it was a little more nerve-racking.”
“It was kind of a weird transition because the regular meets in high school didn’t seem as competitive,” Bryan said. “Then when sectional and regional came, it started feeling more like club meets. Having (sectional and regional) at our school kind of felt like practice because it calmed the nerves of competing.”
Saturday afternoon, Bryan and Greiwe will have a chance to experience the high school state meet for the first time. They hope to help East earn a spot on the medals stand with a top-four team finish.
“I’m trying to get in the top three on events,” Bryan said.
“I’m just trying to do my best and help out the team as much as I can,” Greiwe said.