A season-long maturation in both the mental and physical aspects of gymnastics produced a special state meet performance from St. Francis junior Natalie Wasche.
Wasche placed eighth in Class 2A all-around with a score of 37.4, less than one-tenth of a point from finishing in the top six and making all-state. The score hardly was a letdown for Wasche, who said she “started crying out of just joy because I was so close to getting into the top six and I still have another year left. It was super exciting.”
For Saints coach Chelsea Lindeman, Wasche’s success at state capped a journey that was both trying and rewarding.
“She has no idea how talented she really is,” Lindeman said. “She’s very modest so we do our best to flood her with compliments.”
Wasche spoke with Star Tribune reporter David La Vaque about performing well at state, learning to be her own best friend and her excitement for next season.
Q: What prompted your switch from club to high school gymnastics?
A: In club, only the people in your club know you and I wanted to be more involved with gymnastics and school together. I started off on varsity right away in seventh grade and went to state my freshman and sophomore years.
Q: How did it feel to perform so well on the biggest stage?
A: It took me by surprise at first. I didn’t know that I could have made the top 10 for all-around. So I was surprised and excited to find out something like that. My goal was to just go out and have fun, and in having fun I did so well. So it was really exciting.
Q: Were you looking for something special on your third trip to state?
A: It’s always been in the back of my mind as one my goals to place at state. But when I went out this year, my main goal was just to hit all four of my routines and have fun.
Q: Could you tell you were having a good meet?
A: Oh, yeah. My first event was bars and I had a really good routine. That put me in the mind-set that it was going to be a good day, and I went and did well on the rest of my routines.
Q: Your coach said you might still not grasp how talented you are. What does that mean to you?
A: That is definitely something we’ve talked about before. Sometimes during the season I give myself less credit. She tells me to be confident in myself and to go out there and do my best. She is helping with that.
Q: She also said you can be your own worst enemy or best friend. Are you getting better at this?
A: I definitely started the season being my own worst enemy. I put a lot of pressure on myself and I was very hard on myself if I wasn’t getting things done right. As the season went on and I hit my routines and got good scores, my mind-set changed. I went into state as more of a best friend to myself.
Q: How did your performance at state fit in to all of that?
A: I definitely went out there with a lot more confidence than I had all season. It really showed because when I’m confident in my routines is when I hit them. And I hit all four at state.
Q: Are you hoping to use the state performance as a springboard for a successful senior year?
A: Oh yeah. I’m super excited to start training in the offseason. I know what I need to have another successful season — I’m going to train really hard and try to beat my personal best in all-around.
Q: How do evaluate the success of offseason training as it’s going on?
A: It’s about building on the skills I have and adding difficulty, like more twists or flips. You try to add the maximum amount of difficulty in all your routines.
David La Vaque