Hanging tough: Dickinson senior Chantal Urlacher relishing senior season after having second thoughts about careerAt the beginning of last summer, Dickinson Trinity senior Chantal Urlacher gave away all her gymnastics apparel and made the decision that her career in the sport was over.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
At the beginning of last summer, Dickinson Trinity senior Chantal Urlacher gave away all her gymnastics apparel and made the decision that her career in the sport was over.
A week later, Urlacher rethought her initial decision, got her uniforms back and was welcomed back in the practice room with opened arms.
Urlacher’s career was far from over. In fact, she’s having her best season yet.
“I wasn’t sure how it would be after taking a year off,” Urlacher said. “I think it, more than anything, helped me get my mind right and body healthy.”
When Urlacher set foot in the practice room in the middle of June, Dickinson head coach Kent Van Ells knew something special was about to happen.
“It was one of those pleasant surprises,” Van Ells said. “She was really committed not to come out and she was really sure about it. During the summer, she reevaluated and I was really excited and happy.”
After a season-ending knee injury during her sophomore season, Urlacher competed in one event her junior year, the uneven bars, and admits she was a little hesitant and uncomfortable.
However, a year removed from knee surgery, Urlacher said she has never felt better.
“The first time I came back, I was really hesitant on everything I did,” Urlacher said. “After that year break, I felt perfectly fine and I haven’t had any problems.”
The first person Urlacher texted to tell she was coming back was fellow Trinity senior and gymnast Mckenzie Kostelecky.
“I was like one of the first to know and it was really exciting,” Kostelecky said. “I’ve always been with Chantal and it is just nice having her around, because we always talk. It would just feel weird if she wasn’t here. I feel like there would be a part missing.”
Urlacher and Kostelecky will compete in their final home regular season event, a triangular with Bismarck Century and Bismarck High, at 5:30 p.m. today at the DHS gymnasium.
“I’m really excited for parent’s night,” Urlacher said. “It’s going to be extremely sad and I’m probably going to cry a lot. I’m glad that it’s all worked out the way it has.”
The addition of Urlacher, who has the ability to be the Midgets’ second or third scorer, made the team a potential West Region and state title contender. Dickinson’s Nos. 1, 2 and 3 gymnasts are freshman two-time defending state all-around champion Acacia Fossum, junior Mikaela Kessel and freshman Keana Kudrna. Along with Urlacher and Kostelecky, the Midgets have a wealth of depth with their top five gymnasts possessing the ability to get all-around scores of 36 points and higher.
“What’s important is to feel valuable,” Van Ells said. “Chantal is very valuable. She’s just working really hard and she’s very dedicated this year. I’m really happy that she’s had a really good year, no matter how it finishes out.”
Urlacher’s best individual score during her career was a 36.325 that came during Dickinson’s Fern Pokorny Meet on Jan. 26.
Though Fossum and Mikaela Kessel returned for that meet, there was a point in time during the season when Dickinson’s Nos. 1 and 2 gymnasts were out with an injury. Fossum was nursing a pull muscle and Kessel suffered a concussion during the Fargo Invitational on Jan. 5.
Urlacher, Kostelecky and Kudrna stepped right in to lead the Midgets for nearly a month.
“Knowing that we have depth and seeing people pick it up is always nice,” Kessel said.
Urlacher’s main goal, like all Dickinson gymnasts, is to win a state team title. The Midgets have placed runner-up to Minot the last four season after winning back-to-back state championships in 2007 and 2008.
“Our team’s goal is win state, but no matter how it works out we’re just going out there and trying our best,” Urlacher said. “If we don’t do it, there’s nothing we can do, because we tried our hardest.
“Finishing off the year healthy would be something that I haven’t done,” Urlacher added with a laugh. “I’m more concerned about the team. I’m not too worried about any personal accomplishments right now.”