Western Branch Senior Brianna Schluneker has been doing gymnastics for several years and suffered several injuries during her performances.
âI broke several bones, suffered a tear in the labrum and also had hip injuries recently,â she said. “I have developed chronic pain but love gymnastics.”
About a year after successfully undergoing hip surgery, Schluneker was at the top of his game at the AAU National Championships in Savannah, Ga., Winning his age group (16-18) at platinum level.
âThis was my second national championship appearance so I had experience in a big competition like this,â Schluneker said.
Schluneker recorded the highest score on beam (9.55), second (9.60) on floor and third on vault (9.35) and uneven bars (8.50). When those four scores were calculated for all-around honors, Schluneker added another first place with 37.00 points.
“I am in competition [just about] all year round, âSchluneker said. âI started gymnastics at the age of 5. I had the idea to get involved in dancing. I felt I could use what I had learned in dance and apply it to gymnastics. Once I started competing in gymnastics, the goal was to see how well I could do in a big competition. “
Schluneker, who is only 5ft 1 but strong, flexible and agile, started the meet with the jump, an event where the score is influenced by the exit at the end.
âYou usually get a really good score with a good exit, where you have to stick it after you land,â Schluneker said. âI was disappointed with my [ending] because I took a step after landing. I thought it would be [adversely affect] my score. “
Uneven bars were the next event for Schluneker and the 11 other competitors in his age group. For the second race in a row, she outscored the rest of the field but secured another third place with her lowest score of the four events.
“They didn’t give me credit for my clear-hip [move]”she said.” My high bar jump [was difficult] because the bars did not extend beyond the [normal] distance. I was very disappointed with my [effort]. “
Schluneker regrouped for their third event and responded with a first place on beam.
âBefore competing, I was stressed by [properly executing] my full turn, “Schluneker said.” Luckily I hit it, then took off off the beam and blocked my landing, so I thought I did well. “
With that momentum, it left the floor exercise as its final event. Working to stay in tune with the music, Schluneker did not win a second consecutive event, but did register her highest individual score (9.60), second among the contestants.
“I thought I had done quite well with my [routine], but I thought I could have done even better, because I felt a bit rushed to play music, âSchluneker said.
The increase in his level of performance in the last two events has allowed Schluneker to rise to the top of the final standings, justifying his dedication, determination and willingness to overcome his recent injuries and surgeries.
âIt was definitely worth the work,â said Schluneker, a resident of Knox Township. “I love gymnastics and was ready to do my best against a big competition.”
Schluneker not only embraces competitive gymnastics as a performer, but enjoys sharing it with others. Employed as a teacher at TGS Gymnastics & Dance in Alliance, she works with young people of various age groups, ranging from 2 to 18 years old.
âI teach it four days a week,â she laughed. “It’s great fun teaching others a sport that I love, but there are times when I need a little patience. When I put it into practice [perspective], it was a great experience. “
His commitment is not limited to gymnastics. Schluneker was also outstanding in class, achieving a GPA of 3.98 throughout his freshman year in high school.
âI love gymnastics, but I also want to go to college and study computer science,â she added. “I’m just trying and [compete] for good grades, just like I do my best in gymnastics. “