After chopping down the Cardinal, Beavers look to debark Huskies

Assistant coach Brian Amato talks with the Oregon State gymnists

Max Braly, Multimedia Contributor

Gymnasts balance school and preparing for the Pac-12 Championships

This time of year, most students are busy with final projects, midterms, and getting ready for finals.

The gymnasts at Oregon State aren’t most students. They have to deal with the drudgeries of the last few weeks of school while also preparing for the final stretch of the season.

“It’s a tough time right now, because it’s when they are really trying to focus in on gymnastics and school a big priority right now with finals coming up here soon,” said head coach Tanya Chaplin.

“It’s very overwhelming, but as long as you stay ahead of everything it’s manageable,” said sophomore McKenna Singley.

Part of managing the stress is finding time for enjoyment. Usually practice happens during the lunch hour, so on the occasion of an off day teammates like to go on lunch dates with each other. But if it’s not lunch, it’s coffee. Redshirt-senior Erika Aufiero claims baristas at the 26th street Dutch Bros know the team all by name.

“We all kind of have our different individual things that we do to decompress,” said Aufiero. “Our off days are very important. We go to lunch on our off days and talk about life and get our minds off gymnastics for a little bit.”

Off of mind, but not out of sight. Only meets remain on the regular season schedule before the PAC-12 Championships in Palo Alto, California.

Last week the Beavers took a trip south to Palo Alto and posted their best score of the season, defeating Stanford 197.125-196.325.

“Last meet we were super excited, obviously, to finally get that 197,” said Singley. “We have really been working on the little details that are super important to raise the scores. To accomplish that as a team is a really good feeling and to see all the hard work start to pay off.”

“It’s crazy because we’ve had so much success but we still haven’t really reached our highest potential,” said Aufiero. “There are still mistakes that people have made. It is just so cool to see how much potential we have. [We didn’t have] a perfect meet and were still able to score that.”

There’s room for improvement and the team is taking every opportunity to get better.

“Everyday we are working even more and more those little details, because that’s where it comes from,” said Singley. “Improving your score be half a tenth will raise the team score a lot. So the sticks, the handstands, the pointed toes, straight legs, everything we’re working on to really push the 197.”

Earlier in the season there was an emphasis on surviving the routines. The team wanted to build a solid foundation of skills that could be honed as the season progressed.

“It’s not about surviving our routines anymore,” said Aufiero. “We’ve done plenty of them, we know how to do our routines. It just really comes down to how well can we do our routine. We don’t have to think about the big skills, that should be on auto pilot by now. Really making sure our minds are on auto pilot so that we can get those little details.”

After two weeks away, the Beavers are finally back in the friendly arms of Gill Coliseum.

“It’s been nice with two good road trips, but it’s always nice to come back home and compete here in front of our fans,” said Chaplin.

On Sunday, the Beavers will face an opponent ranked in the top 25 for the fifth out of the last six meets. The grueling PAC-12 schedule will come to an end against No. 17 Washington.

Set to begin at noon, the theme of the meet is superhero. The first 100 children through the doors will receive a complimentary OSU cape to match the gymnasts as they are announced into the gym.

“We’ll celebrate these last two weeks. It’s the last two meets that our seniors get to compete at Oregon State,” said Chaplin. “I think that’s the biggest thing that we are trying to focus on, enjoying that for them. Even the freshman, knowing that each team is very different and this last part of the season is to celebrate the journey with the teammates you’ve been competing with. That’s what it’s all about is just celebrating all the hard work you’ve put into the season and really going after it.”

On Twitter: @Max_Braly

Was this article helpful?