Metro Gymnastics member to compete in Level 9 championships May 1-4 in Boise

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Wilsonville High School senior Hanna Schulte will participate in the Level 9 women's Western national gymnastics championships for the second year in a row.Friends, classmates and others have often asked Hanna Schulte why she spends 20 hours each week practicing gymnastics.

In recent days, her upcoming schedule probably would have sufficed as an answer.

The Wilsonville High School senior has earned the opportunity to compete at the Level 9 women’s Western national championships, which will be held May 1-4 in Boise, Idaho.

It’s Schulte’s second-consecutive trip to the Western national meet — she also qualified last year — and she has reason to believe it will be even more memorable this time around.

“A year’s work went into it,” she said. “I think this will be a lot better. I have a lot more confidence going into this meet. Last year was my first time there, and I didn’t really know what to expect. This time, I’m going to have that experience. I’m looking forward to it.”

Schulte’s repeat appearance was made possible in part by her performances over the past six weeks.

She posted an all-around score of 35.450 points during the Oregon state championships March 21-23 at Willamette University’s Sparks Center in Salem, including 9.250 points in the vault competition, 9.150 on the bars, 9.050 for her floor routine and 8.000 on the beam.

Schulte then tested her skills at the Region 2 championships April 10-13 at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds in Helena, Mont., which hosted more than 450 talented gymnasts from Oregon as well as Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska and Hawaii. She tallied an all-around score of 35.800 points, including 9.275 points in vault, 9.250 on bars, 9.150 in floor exercise and 8.125 on the beam.

The effort earned Schulte a trip to Boise for the Western national championships, where she’s hoping to improve on the score of 34.550 that she logged at the same meet last year in Roseville, Calif. She said it would mean a lot to her to perform well on the bars, her favorite event.

“It’s just really cool to get that chance to be a part of the regional team and represent Oregon,” she said. “I’m really excited. It’s super-fun, and everyone has a great time.”

Schulte is no newbie when it comes to gymnastics. She’s been involved in the sport since she was about 3 years old, and she’s climbed through the national governing body’s designated levels as she’s expanded her techniques over the years as a member of Metro Gymnastics Center in Tualatin.

“She’s basically been here her whole life,” coach Sara Halverson said.

And Halverson has been around for much of Schulte’s development. A former area gymnast who achieved Level 10 status at the age of 15, Halverson has been the Optional head coach at Metro Gymnastics since 2001.

Schulte, she said, has complemented her progress in the physical and technical aspects of gymnastics with development in her mental approach to competitions.

“She’s gotten some new skills, and she’s made some huge improvements,” Halverson said of the former Wood Middle School student. “She’s more experienced and a lot more focused and positive.”

Schulte has demonstrated her focus and determination throughout high school. She’s been a frequent member of Wilsonville’s honor roll, and Advanced Placement testing will await her when she returns from the national meet in Boise.

But she acknowledged that it takes a different kind of mental fortitude to succeed in the intense atmosphere of a championship gymnastics competition.

“There definitely is a lot of pressure, especially since I’m up against some really amazing gymnasts — some I’ve competed against all my life,” she said. “And some events give me more pressure than others. In floor and vault, I don’t feel as many nerves. Beam and bars — those are more nerve-racking.”

Schulte, though, keeps coming back for more. Leading up to the national meet, Schulte — who is slated to graduate from high school — said she still wasn’t sure if she would pursue gymnastics at the collegiate level.

She said she doesn’t want gymnastics to dictate where she ends up but added that she would likely try to participate if her future school has a team or club.

“It’s been a huge part of my life, and I want to keep it part of my life as long as I can,” she said. “It’s just something that I found that I really like. It’s taught me how to be a hard worker, and it’s given me confidence. I have to trust myself that I’m going to do the skills right.”

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