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Tom Mix, Published May 08 2013

Commitment pays off for Fargo South gymnast Schalow

Fargo - Emma Schalow takes gymnastics seriously. Her start in the sport can be traced back to when she was just 18 months old. And now, as a 17-year-old, Schalow is preparing for the biggest gymnastics meet of her young career.

Schalow, a junior at Fargo South, qualified for the Level 10 Junior Olympic Nationals gymnastics meet set for Friday through Sunday at the Minneapolis Convention Center. It will be the first time at the Level 10 nationals for Schalow, who has competed in Level 10 for two years.

“It’s nice to see all your hard work pay off, and it is exciting to compete with gymnasts from all over the country,” said Schalow, who participated on competitive gymnastics teams at American Gold Gymnastics since she was 3 years old.

Schalow, one of only five Level 10 gymnasts in the state, will be joined in Minneapolis by fellow Level 10 gymnast Sienna Crouse of TNT Gymnastics.

A strong showing at the USA Junior Olympic Region 4 Championships in St. Louis, Mo., on April 12 allowed Schalow to punch her ticket to nationals. The top seven Level 10 all-around gymnasts in each of the eight age groups from the eight regions qualified.

“Emma hit a solid beam routine to start the day, which was a big confidence booster for her,” said American Gold Gymnastics competitive director and coach Heidi Tillman said. “She hit her floor routine, and heading into her best event – the vault – she felt very confident there. She went into her last event needing to hit a solid routine in the bars, and she did that.

“It was a very good day for her hitting all her events and setting her up to qualify for nationals,” Tillman said.

Schalow scored 9.4 on the vault, 9.15 on the uneven bars, 9.225 on the balance beam and 9.275 on the floor exercise. Her all-around total was 37.05, which placed her fifth in the Senior B division.

“Practice did not go that well the day before, so it was nice to have a solid meet,” Schalow said. “It went a lot better than last year at regionals. I didn’t have my best meet in every event, but I was solid enough in each event to qualify.”

Schalow, who practices 18 hours a week, strives for perfection each time she hits the gym, but admits nerves can sometimes get the best of her. At regionals, Schalow showed no signs of being nervous and Ashley Brasel, an assistant coach at American Gold Gymnastics, noticed.

“I think she had a great meet,” said Brasel, who coaches Schalow in the beam and floor. “She seemed a lot more relaxed and comfortable. We didn’t see a lot of that from her this year. … She settled herself down and enjoyed herself.”

Schalow has qualified for nationals twice as a Level 9 gymnast and said keeping a cool head at those meets is important.

“She just has a few small things to clean up on each event to improve her scores,” Tillman said. “She is getting a lot of practice in to feel confident heading into that meet. This is something she has been working for since she was a

2-year-old. It is a huge accomplishment for her.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562