Gymnasts getting healthier and hungrier

Mercer Island senior Erika Reutimann made her return to the lineup Thursday despite some nagging injuries. - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
Mercer Island senior Erika Reutimann made her return to the lineup Thursday despite some nagging injuries.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

The Mercer Island High School gymnastics team is getting healthy, slowly. The Islanders welcomed back senior Erika Reutimann to competition Thursday during their meet at Newport High School.

Reutimann still has problems with her back, which is keeping her out of the floor exercise.

“It feels good to put my injuries aside,” said Reutimann. “I wanted to get back out here for the team and to make the most of my senior year.”

That dedication to team has had a positive impact throughout the roster.

“We can really use her scores,” said Mercer Island coach Lenny Lewis. “She is a big part of this team.”

The Islanders are still waiting for sophomore all-around gymnast Vanessa Gaffney to return to the lineup this week.

“She’s looking good and will come back ready to compete,” said Lewis. “I was really impressed by her at practice.”

But Lewis’ concern is not just with his top talent recovering from injuries. Leading one of the biggest gymnastics squads in school history, Lewis has his hands full managing how to fit all the girls into spots they have earned.

“I am trying to get everyone a chance,” said Lewis, who let 18 girls compete on floor exercise during a meet at Bainbridge Island. “There is a lot of competition on the team for spots.”

The Islanders normally have five or so members competing in an event. One freshman who has broken into the varsity lineup this season is Kelly Grady.

“She’s a fighter and she really wants to letter,” said Lewis.

Grady had been competing on beam until she was edged out over winter break.

“She asked me what she could do to get it back,” said Lewis. “And she learned a front tuck of the beam in a couple of days. I was impressed.”

The competition level within the team has been so high that Lewis let 22 girls from junior varsity start the varsity meet on Monday in order to provide them time in competition.

“We have a meet (tomorrow) and I think it is best to get them in there and keep them interested in gymnastics,” said Lewis.

All of the normal varsity starters will compete tomorrow as the team hosts Lake Washington, Liberty and Redmond.

“I have to be satisfied with where we are because we haven’t had our full lineup so far,” said Lewis.

With the league title in gymnastics decided at the KingCo championship meet on February 7, Lewis hopes all his girls will be healthy in the next three weeks.

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