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High School Gymnastics

Pain doesn't stop Brunswick's Hannah Burk from leading

  • burk4column4color-jpg

    Brunswick gymnast Hannah Burk poses for a portrait.

    RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE

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Hannah Burk is the only upperclassman on the Brunswick gymnastics team. She also is the lone remaining member of its 2016 state-qualifying squad.

The senior captain is doing everything she can to pay it forward and help the Blue Devils return to the state meet in March.

“I have emphasized so much that our goal is to get to state this year,” she said. “Making it as a team would make everything that we have worked for pay off. With how close we are, I can’t imagine how much fun it would be to get there together.

“Everyone has really stepped up, and no doubt deserves to make it. It’s been so fun watching and cheering on my team. They are so awesome.”

Awesome is an accurate description of how Brunswick’s season has gone. The Blue Devils have compiled a 7-1 record with the two highest scores by a Medina County team over the past three years. They fell a fraction of a point shy of breaking the school record with a 139.05 on Jan. 11.

Reigning Gazette MVP Jordyn Thomas leads the county in the all-around, vault and floor exercise, while Burk owns the top score on the balance beam and ranks second on the uneven parallel bars.

“In true veteran fashion, Hannah came out with a bang in our first meet and posted the highest scores of the weekend,” Blue Devils coach Jacqueline Krist said, referring to Burk’s bars and beam titles at the multi-meet Flip for the Cure event in North Ridgeville.

“She’s doing everything that you can ask for from a captain, getting the younger girls ready for this postseason and for the next several seasons.”

Unfortunately for Burk, a lifetime of competing in the sport has taken a significant physical toll on her back. She earned individual state berths as a freshman and sophomore, but was severely limited last winter while advancing to the West Geauga District in two events.

The chronic back issues flared up again following a four-team meet at Berea-Midpark on Dec. 29, when she won the beam and was third in the all-around. She hopes to return to action at the Greater Cleveland Conference Meet, but will no longer perform on the vault.

“I’ve been dealing with lots of tingling and pain going down my legs, which is predominately from my back being so inflamed that I am hitting a lot of nerves,” Burk said. “I have been taking different medications to reduce the inflammation and trying new methods of rehabilitation, but I haven’t quite found the trick.

“My plan last year was to hold back a little bit in order to feel like my ‘best self’ in my senior season, but obviously that backfired on me.”

Despite the worsening condition of her back, Burk said she has never contemplated giving up gymnastics. There are a mere eight seniors on county rosters and just five fourth-year athletes, but she is the only one with multiple state appearances.

Brunswick’s lineup features five sophomores, including Thomas and KaraBeth Nemet, and a talented freshman quartet led by Anna Taylor and Sophia Tomecko. With no juniors in the program, Burk’s natural leadership is a much-needed presence.

Even after taxing physical therapy sessions, she heads straight to Five-Star Gymnastics to join the Blue Devils at their workouts. And if her season concludes prematurely for medical reasons, Burk has found inner peace.

“It is frustrating because I did not foresee my gymnastics career ending like this, but I am starting to see the big picture,” she said. “I can say that I am having the most fun I’ve ever had doing high school gymnastics this year.

“We are constantly laughing and cheering each other on, and I am so thankful to be part of such a fun, energetic and driven group of girls. I can already tell how much I am going to miss it.”

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.


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