WATERTOWN – There was a little bit of doubt lingering in the mind of Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted/Holy Trinity senior Riley Hintz heading into the Section 5A meet. There was none in coach Tammie Thiemann.
After getting off to a shaky start, Hintz dug deep the rest of the way and made school history for the Lakers as she qualified for the Class A state meet in all-around.
“It’s really exciting,” Hintz said. “I didn’t think I was going to make it for all-around but I did. I did way better than I thought.”
Hintz is the first gymnast in school history to qualify for the state meet after posting an all-around score of 35.025 which was good enough for third place overall.
“We’ve never been to state in gymnastics and have never had a single gymnast make it,” Thiemann said. “It’s amazing. It’s by the far the best thing ever as a coach. I’m excited for her. I knew she was going to do it. She’s just so driven that I had no doubt she would make it to state. It’s pretty cool to see.”
It was a tough start for Hintz as she opened things up on beam. She posted a score of 8.150 which was good enough for 10th place overall and put her behind in the race to qualify for state in all-around.
“I had a really bad beam and that was first,” Hintz said. “I was really nervous and discouraged at first.”
From her least favorite event to one of her favorites, the night for Hintz changed in a big way as she made her way to floor.
“Beam is what she feels is always her worst,” Thiemann said. “That’s where we started and I told her let’s get through it. Watching her rise up from that was icing on the cake. You couldn’t have asked for anything more as a coach. She just never gave up.”
Hintz delivered a bounce-back performance on floor posting a score of 9.075 to get things back on track. From that point on, it was smooth sailing for the senior as she delivered in big ways on vault and bars to secure a spot at the state meet for the first time.
“I’ve just always loved floor,” Hintz said. “I get really excited about that. I’ve always been a bit nervous about my first pass on floor but when I landed it, that gave me confidence and I was really excited for the rest of the meet.”
Hintz capped off her night by taking second on bars with a score of 8.600 and tied for second on vault with a score of 9.200 to make school history as the first gymnast to reach the state meet.
The night was also a big one for the Lakers as a team. HLWW/HT posted a new season-best score of 127.150 which was good enough for fourth place overall.
“It’s amazing,” Thiemann said. “I’ve always told them that they’ve had it. I knew today was going to be a big day for them. The team pulled through and that’s what it’s all about. They grew together all season and it was great watching them. It’s the best part of my job.”
“This is perfect,” Hintz said about the night. “Our team had a personal record tonight too. That’s very exciting. It was three points higher than our previous best. That’s really awesome to see.”
Hintz will represent the Lakers in all-around at the Class A State Meet Saturday, Feb. 25 at Roy Wilkins Auditorium. The competition for Class A begins at 6 p.m.
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