One final hurrah for Mueller

After the final home meet of the season, Jill Mueller -- the Dickinson High gymnastics team's lone senior -- listened to a speech from juniors Acacia Fossum and Keana Kudrna.

Jill Mueller
Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson senior Jill Mueller competes on her balance beam routine during the Milo Dullum meet on Dec. 5 at DHS auxiliary gymnasium.

After the final home meet of the season, Jill Mueller - the Dickinson High gymnastics team’s lone senior - listened to a speech from juniors Acacia Fossum and Keana Kudrna.
The juniors talked about how they hoped Mueller could compete one more time.
Fossum’s and Kudrna’s wish is going to come true. Mueller, who has battled back problems the entire season, will compete for the Midgets during the North Dakota state gymnastics meet in the team competition at 3 p.m. today in Minot.
“I really wanted to help in whatever way I could, even it’s just for two events,” Mueller said. “I stopped before, but that was out of my own will to stop. But now not being able to do because physical things that are out of your control, it’s a lot different.”
Fossum - who holds the top all-around and uneven bars average in the state at 38.292 and 9.725 points, respectively - couldn’t be happier that Mueller made the decision to compete one more time.
Though Mueller won’t compete in every event, she will help the Midgets on floor exercise and balance beam.
“I’m glad that she’s doing it, because I feel that she would have regretted not doing it,” Fossum said. “I’m really proud of her for pushing through.”
At the start of the season, Mueller hoped to eventually compete in the all-around, but those plans never came through as back pains continued to mount.
Dickinson head coach Kent Van Ells is proud of the commitment from Mueller to gut out one more meet.
“She figured she could survive a week,” he said with a laugh. “It looks very likely for floor and beam. Those two could help us a lot. We are happy to see that.”
However, injuries have hindered most of the Midgets’ roster.
Kudrna had to sit out the first 10 weeks of the season due to a stress fracture in her right foot. Faith Beck, a freshman all-around competitor, suffered a concussion Dec. 20 during the Fargo Davies Invitational.
Part of the 10 weeks Kudrna was sidelined, she had to wear a boot on her right foot. She said sitting on the sidelines was an eye-opening experience.
“I learned that you need to stay positive throughout this sport and appreciate what you have, because when I sat out, it made me appreciate gymnastics a lot more,” she said. “You just have to stay positive throughout everything.”
With the return of Kudrna and Mueller, the Midgets hope to be within striking distance against West Region champions Minot.
Minot and Dickinson are the Nos. 1 and 2-ranked teams in the state, respectively. The Majettes are averaging a 147.745 team score, which is 1.620 points better than the Midgets.
“We are going in knowing that Minot would be favored to win, but what we need to do is do the best we can to make it as close as possible,” Van Ells said. “If things happen right, we have a shot at winning. It will take a lot, because Minot is good.”
The Midgets’ hope is on the horizon.
Dickinson recorded two of three best team scores during the previous two meets. The Midgets scored a season-best 148.875 during their regular season finale and a 145.800 at the West Region meet on Feb. 20.
“At the end of the season, we have gotten a lot better scores,” Fossum said. “Everyone is realizing that we have a lot of potential and we just have to use all of things that we have and put it out there. The last couple of meets have definitely showed that we are able to do that.”

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