MISSOULA – Mismo Gymnastics turned in another great year. Now some of the stars of the Missoula club prepare for nationals and the next level, and they are doing it together.
The youngest of Mismo’s standouts, Kaetlyn Tenesch, is only 12, but she has already earned several trips to work out at the National Team Training Center. Her upward trajectory continues this week when she makes her first trip to Level 9 Western Championships.
“I’m pretty excited,” said Tenesch. “I’m a little nervous. It’s kind of cool, but I get really nervous for meets now because they are really pressured and stuff.”
Mismo will also send two girls to Level 10 Junior Olympic Nationals, the only Montana athletes to reach that pinnacle this year. Lindsey Ockler, a freshman from Frenchtown, makes the trip for the first time in her first year at Level 10.
“I always kind of had it in the back of my mind, ‘Well, hopefully I can get there someday,'” said Ockler. “But it never actually occurred to me that I made it until this year.”
Naiya Beaudin will join Ockler at the highest level. The Valley Christian junior qualified for the big stage last year but admitted she didn’t perform her best because of a shoulder injury. Now fully healthy, Beaudin finished second all-around in her age group at regionals and knows her dream of competing in college could get a big boost at nationals.
“It’s really important,” said Beaudin. “When you get there, there is tables and tables of college coaches, and they’re all watching you. So it’s a little intimidating, but it’s cool that they get to see what you get to do.”
Beaudin and her teammate Nicole Johnson each took first place on the balance beam in their regional age groups.
Now Johnson prepares for where Beaudin wants to go. The Missoula Hellgate senior will join the team at Hamline University next year, becoming the first Mismo girl to compete in college. But Johnson doesn’t feel like a trailblazer.
“There’s been a lot of girls in the past who have tried doing college gymnastics, but then their senior year they just decided it wasn’t for them anymore,” said Johnson. “So it doesn’t really feel like I’m the first one.”
Johnson credits her teammates for helping her through the grind of years of workouts. The girls know they all reached this spot in a competitive individual sport together.
“They inspire me to have fun every day,” said Johnson.
“We help each other a lot with just kind of being able to relate to each other,” added Ockler.
“I couldn’t do this without my teammates,” claimed Tenesch. “They always encourage me on my down days.”
“We act as one, basically,” said Beaudin. “We’re always there for each other.”
Tenesch will compete at the Level 9 Western Championships this Friday in Salt Lake City. Ockler and Beaudin head to Cincinnati for the Level 10 Junior Olympic Nationals next week.