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Chris Murphy, Published February 20 2013

Seljevold rebounds from past disappointment

Fargo - As a dozen budding gymnasts carrying sippy cups walked through the American Gold Gymnastics gym with wide eyes and even wider smiles Wednesday, Moorhead junior gymnast Maren Seljevold couldn’t help but reflect on her 13 years of gymnastics.

More than a decade of work, broken bones and scores that tore her heart up have led to the pinnacle of her career: A trip to state.

“This is definitely the peak,” Seljevold said. “Gymnastics has been my life. It’s been in my life for so long, and I haven’t gotten into much else. I never wanted to be in anything else. It’s just a passion of mine.”

Seljevold remembered the torn meniscus she suffered two years ago, the broken pinky toe, the aches, the sprains and the current crooked index finger which she’s “pretty sure” is broken. With the top four spots at sectionals going to the state meet, she remembered three fifth-place finishes last season. She remembered the less than 1/10 of a point that cost her fourth place and a trip to state last season on the floor exercise.

At the top of the mountain, Seljevold can’t help but remember the trips along the way. It’s been a long road to the state meet Friday and Saturday at the University of Minnesota.

“I just missed state last year and it really bummed me out,” Seljevold said. “I didn’t expect to do as well as I did, but I’m really excited to go to state. I honestly wasn’t sure I made it this time, but my best was good enough this year.”

Before state qualifiers are announced at section meets, coaches check through the scores to make sure they are correct. Moorhead coach Toni Kleber knew before anyone Seljevold had made it, just as she had known before anyone last season Seljevold had just missed it.

“I try not to make eye contact with them after finding out,” said Kleber, who is in her 19th year of coaching Moorhead and claimed her third section Coach of the Year award this year. “You don’t want to ruin the moment for them.”

With all the numbers thrown around and all the events going on, even mom can’t be trusted

“My mom had written down all the scores, so I think she knew, but you just never know until the names are called,” Seljevold said.

Seljevold heard her name for second place in the balance beam and fourth place in both the vault and the all-around. She was going to state.

“There was an instant smile on my face,” Seljevold said. “State is the top I can go. I’m going to go out there and have fun and do my best. It’s the last meet, so I might as well go hard.”

According to Kleber, going hard is the only way Seljevold operates.

“She’s very talented, a hard worker and she does what she’s expected to do every day,” Kleber said. “She’s been easy to work with. She’s in the top 10 percent of gymnasts I’ve coached.”

The state meet spotlight shouldn’t be anything new to Seljevold. She’s had many eyes on her before.

“In the first grade, I was the poster child for the, ‘Welcome to Moorhead’ billboard,” Seljevold said. “That was me holding a glass of lemonade.”

She’s come a long way.

Perham in new role at Minnesota state meet

For the first time since 2004, Perham is heading to the state gymnastics meet not as the defending state champions. With no upperclassmen on the squad, the Yellowjackets are looking for a learning experience this trip.

“We’re hoping to place right around fourth,” Perham coach Charlie Fleck said. “Third is a long shot, because the other teams have so many veterans. What better medicine can you get for a young team than going to the state meet? They will learn something new from the big lights and the big show and when we’re at full strength, we’ll be there to compete.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548