By Jackie Jenson
Photography by Thru Him Photography
US Girls Gymnastics Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas once said, “Hard days are the best because that’s where champions are made.” For Detroit Lakes High School gymnast Molly Lyngaas, this year, she put that quote to the test. Edging out her closest competitor by .025, the sophomore tumbler recently rose to the occasion to take the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) Girls Gymnastics 2014-2015 All-Around Champion title, with a combined score of 38.025.
“I didn’t know until my name was announced that I had won the all-around. It was all very exciting,” says the young gymnast.
“For a sophomore to be the all-around champ is sort of unheard of,” adds Detroit Lakes High School Girls Gymnastics Head Coach Steve Zamzo. “Usually, it’s the junior or senior that has the experience. As with any sport, though, no one is expected to win. Those that do, put in the time, have the confidence and believe in their ability.”
According Zamzo, a unique aspect to Lyngaas’ win was the fact that she did not take top honors in any one of the four gymnastic disciplines: vault, uneven parallel bars, floor exercise and balance beam.
“To accomplish this without having won any of the events, is a testament to how hard Molly works at all the disciplines, and to how consistent she has been throughout her career,” continues Coach Zamzo.
Perfecting her gymnastics prowess for more than ten years, Lyngaas has logged an estimated 7000 hours at the gym. As a result of those efforts, her accomplishments are hard-earned. This year, in addition to the coveted all-around title, Molly ended up taking second in bars, third in floor exercise, and fourth in vault at the state tournament.
“It’s fun to work as hard as you can and get to state. I knew it was a possibility [to win the all-around].
We were having a really good meet, but the title was a question mark,” relays the young gymnast.
Versatile in all four events – vault, uneven parallel bars, floor exercise and balance beam – Lyngaas notes that she does gravitate to one of her events just a bit more than the
She says, “Vault is my favorite mainly because it’s the only event that you get two opportunities to do as well as you can.”
Gymnastics runs through Molly’s veins, and has for more than a decade. With dreams to return to state competition, she remains intense and focused on her goals.
“I practice about 14 hours a week, year-round. I’ve been doing gymnastics since I was six years old, so almost ten years now,” she explains. “I tried dance, but it wasn’t my thing. I love gymnastics and all the girls [on the team]. With gymnastics, I get to work hard and hang with my friends.”
Lyngaas has been on a roll for a while now. Last year, the young gymnast went to the MSHSL Girls Gymnastics State Individual Meet and placed seventh. She has also made multiple appearances at USA Gymnastics meets.
Although she has seen her share of success, Molly also had her share of challenges this year. Sustaining major foot damage over the summer, Lyngaas’ attention switched quickly from competition to rehab for the 2014-2015 season. As a result of her injury, Molly overcame a lot on her way to earning the title of Minnesota State Girls Gymnastics Class A All-Around Champion.
“This year, I was out for half the season after I broke three bones in my foot. I was on crutches for four weeks and a walking boot for two,” recalls Lyngaas. “Having to sit out was hard. It was also really hard to get back into the season in the middle of everything.”
Lyngaas’ injury ended up taking three and half months to heal which left the gymnast spending much of her time attending to rehab versus honing her skills. As consequence of her injury, she was not even allowed to start competing until midseason.
“It took lots of hard work to make it back to competing,” adds Lyngass. “I missed three meets.”
“Molly’s injury was concerning at the beginning of the season,” relays Coach Zamzo. “As our top scorer the previous year, we were counting on her skills and scores.”
Being a determined athlete definitely helped the young gymnast to return to her all-around form. That being said, it was still a bit of a surprise that she won the All-Around, notes the coach. Ironically, the team, which also took the 2015 State Gymnastics Class A team title, may have curiously benefited from Lyngaas’ early season setback.
“Having it [Lyngaas’ injury] happen during the summer, all the girls were aware of what happened and didn’t sulk or worry,” explains coach Zamzo. “They all stepped up their training. It was really great to see how the girls performed during the first few meets of the season. We needed Molly, but we were going to be okay until she healed enough to be cleared.”
“We work well together which has helped us find success,” remarks Molly of her team. “When one of us is having an off day, someone always pitches in to help find the scores we need to win. We are a young team that keeps striving to do better.”
For a passionate gymnast such as Lyngaas, her ambitions to make it to state upon her return were well-defined and resolute. So, when she was cleared to resume gymnastics, Zamzo notes everyone proceeded very slowly to ensure a successful return.
“Molly didn’t just start full speed. We took small steps,” describes Zamzo. “She had to earn her varsity spot just like all the other girls did.”
Although the team is already working hard to repeat their successes from the 2014-2015 season, so is every other team. “Nothing is guaranteed,” says Coach Zamzo of the competition.
“There are many teams that are comparable to us, and our skill and numbers,” explains the coach. “It depends on the quality of the time spent.”
“My goals are simple. Work really hard over the summer, defend and repeat,” concludes Molly. “The goal is to go back every year!”