When she was a freshman, one of the most memorable thrills in Taylar Schaefer's life occurred when she placed second on vault as an individual in the Class 2A gymnastics state meet. Standing just above her on the podium was the champion, Mahtomedi's Bella Frattalone.

"I was in more awe that I got to stand up on the podium next to her than I was that I placed second," recalled Schaefer, a St. Cloud Tech senior. "I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I'm standing next to her and she's so good.' "

Three years later, it's likely Schaefer has become the gymnastics idol of young gymnasts after her dominating performance in the Class 2A individual meet Saturday at Roy Wilkins Auditorium.

Schaefer swept the four events — she scored 9.825 on vault, 9.55 on the floor exercise and on the uneven parallel bars, and 9.575 on the balance beam — en route to her second consecutive all-around championship. Her cumulative score of 38.5 significantly outpaced that of runner-up Jackie Bergeron of St. Michael-Albertville, who scored 37.8. Forest Lake's Samantha Ernst was third with 37.65.

The last gymnast to sweep the four events and the all-around at the state meet was Champlin Park's Chaney Neu in 2019.

"Never in a million years did I think this would be me," Schaefer said. "It's literally insane."

Her coach, Joel Stark-Haws, said he was as surprised as anyone that Schaefer swept the events. "Bars and floor," he said. "She's strong there, but those are tough ones. Usually someone sneaks in there and earns it."

But nobody was surprised Schaefer won. "She had her strongest meet of the year today, but her average this year was 38.3," Stark-Haws said. "She's such a consistent athlete, and so much fun to coach. She just loves being in the gym."

Schaefer admitted that being a defending state champion carried a large helping of pressure, something that grew as the state meet grew closer.

"There were way more nerves, way more pressure," she said. "I felt this year people expecting, 'Oh, the all-around champ from last year.' "

To alleviate the stress, she went on walks, many of them. She leaned into visualization. "Our beam coach is super big into visualization," she said. "... When you visualize good routines, it's like you've been up there before."

One thing she still can't picture is people looking up to her the way she once looked up to others.

"I always wonder what people talk about me," she mused. "My favorite thing is when the little girls at my gym come up to me and say, 'You're so good.' Then they come to these meets and they see this and it's kind of inspiring them that they can do this, too."