Late bloomer: Dickinson senior Shalesa Wariner took the road less traveled to the top of high school gymnasticsClimbing to varsity status for any athlete can be a long and tiresome. But for senior Shalesa Wariner, the path was a little rocky.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
Climbing to varsity status for any athlete can be a long and tiresome. But for senior Shalesa Wariner, the path was a little rocky.
After much progression since her seventh-grade year, Wariner is now an integral part for the Dickinson High gymnastics team that hosts the North Dakota state meet beginning today at DHS gymnasium.
“When I first started, I definitely wasn’t one of the better ones,” Wariner said. “I don’t think they were expecting me to be one of the better ones either, but I really wanted to be good at this sport. I’ve worked so hard to get where I’m at today.”
The road she took was long, winding and she had a few stubbles along the way.
Dickinson head coach Kent Van Ells has been impressed with Wariner’s acclimation to a top three score for the Midgets.
“(Wariner went) from a girl that didn’t even compete at the state meet for us when she was a seventh-grader to being an extremely important part of our team,” Van Ells said. “Her skills are almost as good as anybody in the state in every event.”
The best gymnasts in the state hardly ever compete at the junior varsity level and jump straight to varsity standards. Wariner took the junior varsity route and made the transition to varsity later in her career.
“She’s the one that I think has improved the most since she was a seventh-grader,” Van Ells said. “She didn’t have an early start like a lot of these girls. … It’s been an amazing transformation for her.”
Wariner specifically pointed out her uneven bars routine as basis for her transformation. When she started as a seventh-grader her average was a 6.9. She now averages an 8.6.
“I just improved a lot and worked really hard to get where I’m at,” she said.
Wariner is ranked eighth in the all-around with an average of 36.65 and her best event the vault she sits fourth (9.575).
“She’s been really insistent to try more difficult things,” Van Ells said. “She’s wanted to do that, but she’s very determined that she wants to do these things.”
Not only is scoring important to being a top gymnast, so is being a leader.
“She always knows that if someone does fall, she has to pick it up,” Dickinson eighth-grader Acacia Fossum said. “She sets a better example for all of us.”
Dickinson sophomore Mikaela Kessel said it will tough next year when Wariner is gone.
“She always helps in skills, her attitude and everything else she brings to the team,” Kessel said. “It’s going to be a big loss.”
This will be the final meet of Wariner’s career.
She said having her last meet at home marks a special time.
“I’m glad that it’s here,” Wariner said. “Just to know my last meet that I’m going to compete ever again is going to be at home. Just because your friends can come, more of your family and having everyone around there, then if it was somewhere else, will be really nice.”