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Varsity Gymnastics · Definitely worth it

Brunswick’s Sikora stuck with sport and had memorable senior season

By: Brian Dulik
Obtained From: Medina Gazette

Gymnastics has consumed the life of Alexx Sikora since she took her first class at the age of 3. Along the way, she won myriad medals and trophies and saluted the crowd from too many podiums to count. Yet, Sikora also suffered more injuries than she thought were possible, leading her to experience a crisis of faith last fall. “You could see the internal struggle she was having. It was apparent in her practices,” Brunswick coach Jamie Woelfl recalled. “Here was a kid who had dedicated her entire life to gymnastics and always had sore knees and bloody palms, but not even one state berth to show for it. “We eventually had a private talk about her mindset and questioning if it was all worth it. I told her I didn’t know — no one knows — but we would support whatever decision she made.”

Sikora wound up making the right decision, both for herself and her teammates, and was rewarded with an unforgettable senior season. She led the Blue Devils to their first berth at the state team meet in 13 years, where they finished fourth, and was the only Medina County gymnast to earn All-Ohio honors at the state individual meet. Those accomplishments merited Sikora’s selection as Gazette MVP. She is just the second Brunswick athlete to win the award since its inception in 1985 and was the school’s first state qualifier in eight years. “There were a few times when I seriously thought I wouldn’t be able to compete because my legs and ankles felt so bad, but I didn’t want to miss out on anything because it was my senior year,” the team captain said. “I had to push the pain away the best I could — and it was well worth it. That’s my relationship with gymnastics.”

Sikora placed ninth on the balance beam and 12th in the floor exercise in her initial state appearance at Hilliard Bradley High. Her top-10 showing in the former made her the Blue Devils’ first All-Ohioan since Jen Bruce in 2008. One day earlier in the same gym, she posted Brunswick’s best marks on the beam and floor at the state team meet. Sikora, junior Jessica Froncek and freshman Hannah Burk counted scores in each event as the Blue Devils finished behind perennial powers Brecksville, Magnificat and Mentor. “Alexx Sikora deserved every moment of the success she had this season,” Medina coach Darcy Ranallo said. “You couldn’t ask for a better leader or for a nicer girl in the gym. She was such a positive influence on their younger gymnasts.” Because Sikora ended her career with a prolonged victory lap, it’s difficult to deter- mine what her most impressive feat was.

●She rung up season-high scores on three successive weekends, topping out on the beam at the Greater Cleveland Conference Meet, the vault and floor at the West Geauga Sectional, and the all-around and floor at the West Geauga District.

● At sectionals, the three year letter winner fell off the bars and beam in the morning, but stormed back in the afternoon with her highest scoring vault of the year and a county season-high 9.275 on the floor.

● After claiming the final qualifying spot on the beam at sectionals (12th) and districts (16th), she performed a terrific routine at state to seize ninth place and All-Ohio status. “I really wasn’t expecting to qualify for state on beam, even though it’s always been my favorite event,” Sikora said. “I just tried to stay tight and clean when I was up there, like I’ve always been taught.” She is now teaching the same lessons at Head Over Heels Gymnastics in Strongsville, where she coaches five days a week. Not surprisingly, Sikora enjoys instructing youths on the finer points of her two signature events, which couldn’t have less in common. As Woelfl puts it, “The floor is an adrenaline event, while the beam requires strict focus and concentration. That Alexx can do both of them so well speaks to her broad set of skills.” Sikora laughed when told of her coach’s assessment, but admitted it was accurate. “I honestly have no idea how that happened because they are so different,” she said. “On beam, you do what you need to do, then get off. But on floor, I’ve always loved dancing and giving it everything that I’ve got. That’s why I tell the girls I coach that presentation is everything. “Even though I’m done competing, I will always love gymnastics and it will always be a part of me. I want the young girls I meet to feel the same way.”