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Flesche enjoying the ride

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Evergreen senior’s competitive career drawing to a close

By Dan Johnson

When she started out in gymnastics, Mandy Flesche didn’t like the beam.

To be more specific, she hated it.

Despite her aversion to it, Flesche continued to practice on the discipline, and her time on the apparatus only increased when her father built a beam for herself and older sister, Marnie, to practice on in their own home.

“My dad used to spot me on it all the time,” Mandy Flesche said.

Soon, Flesche’s most-hated event became her most-cherished.

At the 2008 Class 4A State Gymnastics Meet, Flesche showed the state why the beam ranks highest on her list. In the evening’s individual finals, Flesche brought the crowd at Thornton High School to its feet with her beam routine. While she didn’t win the event – she placed second with a 9.575 score – the memories of that night will always bring a smile to her face.

“It was the most amazing feeling,” said Flesche, whose third-place finish in the all-around helped lift the Cougars to the 4A team title. “I could pick out certain voices and hear what my mom and my teammates were yelling after I finished my routine. Seeing them give me so much support really made it a special day.”

While most gymnasts start their routine standing on the 4-inch wide beam, Flesche chooses to make a more dramatic entrance. She literally vaults off the floor onto the beam.

It’s a high-risk, high-reward move that Flesche has been doing now for two years.

“I asked if I could try vaulting onto the beam and the coaches were all for it,” Flesche said. “So I began to practice it and wound up feeling pretty comfortable doing it. It’s a lot of pressure though to start your routine because if you fall, you really have to work hard to block it out of your mind and perform the rest of the routine like the fall didn’t happen.”

While Flesche’s varsity gymnastics career ended on the highest of notes, she’s not done competing yet. She’s still in the gym working hard on all the events – including beam – as she prepares to wrap up her USAG Level 9 season.

There’s quite a few differences when comparing USAG meets to varsity meets, Flesche said. The USAG meets tend to have a more private feel, as there’s less cheering than at varsity meets. The USAG meets are more individual-based, so the team dynamic really doesn’t factor in as much as it does at the high school level.

“You’re really in control of yourself more at the USAG,” Flesche said. “In high school, when you’re not competing you’re usually off cheering on a teammate while they perform. At USAG everyone’s more spread out so there isn’t as much of that. You really have to figure out your element.”

Flesche’s element since she was little has been at the Wulf Recreation Center, taking gymnastics classes.

She and older sister, Marnie, a star gymnast at Evergreen and now an assistant coach for the Cougars, grew close because both were competing in the same sport. The duo would train five days a week, up to three hours a day, and then go to meets on weekends.

“We lived the sport,” Mandy Flesche said, with a laugh.

Following in her older sister’s footsteps, Flesche is now trying her hand at teaching the next generation of aspiring gymnast.

“I really like teaching,” said Flesche, who will attend Johnson and Wales University in Denver. “I’d like to maybe be an assistant coach at Evergreen like my sister.”