ST. PAUL – There was a time in Watertown-Mayer/Mound Westonka’s Reagan Kelley’s life when gymnastics was a question mark. After years of competing in club gymnastics took a toll on her body and mind, there was a sense of doubt hovering over her gymnastics career.
“There was a time where she was going to walk away from gymnastics,” W-M/MW coach Steve Hangartner said. “She didn’t want to do it anymore. Now she just loves gymnastics again. That’s a big reward to us when you see that. She still wants to do it. We knew she had a lot of talent but she was going to walk away. To see where she is now is awesome.”
Kelly’s love for the sport was on full display as she capped off her high school career winning her second-straight Class A state title in all-around Saturday night, posting a score of 38.500.
“Coming in today, I felt like there was a lot more competition than there was last year,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of girls’ all-around (scores) go up and up this year. I was a little bit nervous, but I have a lot of confidence in myself. I know what I needed to do to pull it off and I did and it feels really good.”
Coming off a stellar performance in the team competing the night before, Kelley picked up right where she left off. A score of 9.85 on vault for her opening rotation set the tone for what was to come the rest of the night.
“It gave me such a confidence boost to start off strong with a stick,” Kelley said. “Today I actually stuck it. It gave me a big confidence boost for the rest of the meet. It was a great way to start off.”
There was just one focus for Kelley throughout the night – herself. With multiple gymnasts on her heels, Kelley took care of business and it paid off with her second-straight state title.
“Today, I came in just thinking about myself,” she said. “I was just trying not to look at other people. I just needed to pull it together on my own and I think I did a good job at that.”
“I noticed today how positive she was,” Hangartner added. “She was focused. I came up to her and told her that she missed this and this and she just told me that it’s alright. I just had to make sure I stayed positive to keep on pumping her up. She was in the zone all night. She was ready to go and we just left her alone.”
Kelley carried a ton of pressure on herself this season, labeled as one of the top gymnasts in the state. Looking to help lead her team back to the state meet again, she did just that as she helped an almost entirely new roster keep their impressive winning streak intact this season.
“We noticed that she took on a lot of pressure this year,” Hangartner said. “She took on a lot more this year. With how good she is, even if she doesn’t hit, her score is still going to count. If she misses, that’s five-tenths off our team score and she knows that. She really had support from the whole team all year. She was crying just because she didn’t want the season to end.”
Kelley’s presence for the Royals will be missed beyond her talent. She had a way of connecting with her teammates all season long, a bond that helped herself and the team make it another memorable season capped off in the best way possible.
“She was just a joy to have around,” Hangartner said. “She was hanging out with eighth graders like they were best friends. For those girls to get to hang out and practice with the best gymnast in the state, that’s awesome. That’s memories they’re going to have for the rest of their lives. You get to know these girls in a personal way and it’s really rewarding.”