HURON — One of the most remarkable careers in Huron gymnastics history will come to a close during the Class AA State Individual and All-Around Championships on Saturday in Aberdeen.
Senior Erica Zell will compete in her final meet for the Tigers.
“My expectations are to do the best I possibly can to hit all my routines, which means not falling, and to be proud of everything that I’ve done and everything that I have worked for,” Zell said.
Huron coach Julie King is looking for her standout athlete to close the season on a high note.
“There is a chance that Erica could be a champion,” King said. “She is a very polished gymnast that has worked very hard. She is with the elite gymnasts in South Dakota and I am looking for her to have a very positive state meet.”
Throughout her gymnastics career Zell has developed into one of the best gymnasts to compete for Huron and that is quite evident with one quick glance at the record book. She holds varsity gymnastics record for the Tigers.
“They have all been exciting, but the floor exercise record is probably the most exciting,” Zell said of establishing new school records. “Then with all-around it makes you feel really accomplished because it means you hit every routine on that day and you did the best you could on everything.”
This season Zell establish a new all-around record at HHS with a score of 36.8. She also established HHS records in bars (9.25), floor exercise (9.7) and beam (9.65) during her senior campaign.
As a junior, Zell inked a new HHS record on the vault with a 9.3.
“She finally got the bar record this year, that was one of her big goals for the season and she continued to break her own records,” King said. “The next gymnast stepping in to try to break her records will have their work cut out for them.”
Zell pointed to the floor exercise as being her favorite event to compete in.
“I like performing floor just because it is fun and you get to be really energetic with it,” she said.
One of the more challenging events for Zell is the beam, where her entire routine is done on a 4-inch platform elevated off the floor.
“The most challenging part of my routine is probably the back tuck, which is just a back flip on the beam,” Zell said. “Just to stay focused, especially at state when there is a lot of noise with a lot of teams cheering and a lot of people talking and music going on.
“Beam is the hardest thing to focus on and you have to focus because it is four inches and if you mess up or are off an inch you can fall off.”
With the bars, Zell pointed to the giant swing as being one of the favorite parts of her routine.
“When you swing around the bar its’ just a cool feeling,” she said.
Her persistence to accomplish the feat has paid big dividends.
“I’ve spent years practicing year-round, going to summer practices in Mitchell and just working hard in practice,” Zell said. “To see results, records and placing well at big meets, it feels really good and makes me really proud of all the hard work I’ve done.”
Despite earning numerous individual accolades, Zell says some of her favorite moments throughout her career have been the ones she has shared with her teammates.
“When a younger teammate or my varsity teammates hit a skill that they’ve been having trouble with or even hit a whole routine that they’ve been struggling with and they are so excited and everyone is so excited for them,” Zell said of her favorite moments. “Or when we have a really good meet when everyone hits their routines and that’s my favorite part when everyone does well together.”
King also pointed to Zell’s work ethic and support for the rest of the team as being a few of her strongest characteristics.
“Erica has always been a very determined young lady. She has matured into an amazing gymnast,” King said. “Not only is she an amazing gymnast who works hard, but she is an amazing team supporter, who helps out all of her teammates. She is one of those well-rounded athletes that every coach wishes they could have.”
In addition to holding every single varsity gymnastics record at HHS, Zell also hold junior varsity records on the bars (8.1) and all-around (33.33), which she established as a freshman.