Steegmueller a fast learner
Niles West's Catherine Steegmueller soars over the beam at the Brinkworth/Munch Girls Gymnastics Invitational at Evanston on Jan. 5. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 25, 2013 12:01PM
During a high school girls gymnastics season that lasts just over two months, there only is so much time for a gymnast to learn new skills and use them in competition.
But Niles West sophomore Catherine Steegmueller has proven this winter that she is a quick study.
An all-conference gymnast her freshman year, Steegmueller has added several new tricks. As a result, expectations are high for the gymnast as she enters the season’s home stretch, which begins with Friday’s CSL South Meet at Niles West.
“Catherine has added something in every event in such a short period of time,” Niles West coach Susan Arcus said. “Most people don’t add on the number of skills in such a short period.”
Arcus said Steegmueller is obviously a talented performer, but there are other characteristics that have contributed to the gymnast’s continued improvement.
“It’s her ability to focus and really listen to what the coaches are saying and to incorporate that into the trick, which has made it easier to do what she has done,” Arcus said.
After qualifying for the sectional in the all-around and on vault and parallel bars last season, Steegmueller said her greatest improvements have come on balance beam and floor exercise this winter.
She has added a standing back flip on beam. On floor, she has been able to fix her round-off flip-flop full and add a front through pass to a full ending. The latter skills have helped her floor marks jump from the 8.6-8.8 range in 2011-12 to the 8.8-9.0 range this season.
“Going into the season, I hoped I would get a lot more new tricks, but I didn’t know how many I would actually get,” said Steegmueller, who is an honor role student. “But I’m impressed and happy with the progress I’ve made in such a short season.”
The gymnast added: “Throughout the season, I’ve just been working hard to make sure I will be able to get these tricks for conference and sectionals. I have an amazing team to work with and helpful coaches making sure that every day we’re the best we can be. I would not be able to do it without them.”
On Friday, Steegmueller will be looking to repeat her all-conference performance of a year ago. Then it is on to regionals, where she hopes to qualify for sectionals in the all-around and in each individual event.
If she makes it to the sectional, Steegmueller will have a chance to become the first Niles West gymnast to qualify for state since Katelynn Johnson in 2010. But Steegmueller said she’s not getting ahead of herself.
“Well, everyone wants to go (to state),” she said. “But I’m taking it one step at a time. You want to do well at regionals and then sectionals and then see where that takes you.”
Arcus, who said Steegmueller is a leader and great example for the other members of Niles West’s inexperienced team, said the gymnast’s best chance to qualify for state would be on bars, vault and in the all-around.
“She’ll have to add one more trick on bars and one more connection on beam (for the all-around score). If she can do all of that, and hit it (at sectional), she has the ability to make state,” the coach said.
At this point, who would bet against Steegmueller’s ability to add new tricks?