Stevens Point Area Senior High gymnastics coach Jennifer Bellmer’s heart nearly jumped into her throat Monday.
During warmups on uneven bars for Great Northern Conference triangular meet, she watched Heidi Zorn land awkwardly and immediately grimace in pain, clutching her right foot.
Having lost senior Libby Pieczynski to a broken arm a week earlier, Bellmer was wondering who would be healthy enough to help the Panthers defend their Great Northern Conference title today.
Fortunately, Zorn, who is the top all-around performer for the Panthers, got to her feet, received a tape job from the trainer on hand and competed on floor exercise.
“The trainer said she (Zorn) would be fine, she just strained a muscle in her foot,” Bellmer said. “It’s been a tough week for us. The injury to Libby was a huge bummer with being a senior, so it’s like the end for her.”
While the Panthers have been receiving bad news on the injury front, things have been looking up for Marshfield when it comes to the health of its gymnastics.
After dealing with an injury earlier in the season, Tigers standout Olivia Tierney has been slowly returning to full health, and the timing couldn’t be much better.
Judging by her performance at a GNC triangular meet earlier in the week when she placed first on floor exercise and vault, while finishing second in all-around, Tierney seems to be rounding into form.
“She’s been gaining strength coming back from the injury,” Tigers coach Lori Nilsen-Bibbo said. “She’s been very consistent and focused all season.”
While Tierney enters the GNC Meet among the favorites to claim some conference titles, Nilsen-Bibbo is hoping the rest of her team can raise the levels of its performance.
She feels the Tigers have some room for improvement in order to make some noise at the conference meet.
“We’re going to put in a lot of work on some things and see if we can clean a lot of things up,” the Marshfield coach said. “We’re in a conference with a lot of big teams, so we’ll go out and hope for the best.”
Bellmer understands the Panthers will have to be at their best if they want to defend their GNC championship.
She has been encouraged by the strides her team has made on uneven bars and floor exercise throughout the season.
That being said, there is still some work to do on balance beam if SPASH expects to fight off what she anticipates to be a strong challenge from Antigo.
“It’s a long push to the end, but I think we’re where we want to be right now more mentally,” Bellmer said. “I wouldn’t say we’re the favorites, but we probably have a chance (to repeat). Antigo was really close to us (at a recent meet), so we know they’re going to keep us on our toes.”