BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — Every athlete has a unique journey to reach the state championship and Maumee gymnasts Elisa Borello and Courtney Crawford might have two of the more impactful.
The senior duo will represent the Panthers at the state tournament this weekend at Hilliard Bradley High School in suburban Columbus.
Borello won the vault event at the district meet at Bowling Green State University with a score of 9.3, while Crawford was fourth on the beam with a score of 9.075.
Borello is an exchange student from Italy. She competed in gymnastics in her home country and Maumee gymnastics coach Megan Wojtkowiak said that experience has been great for the team.
“She was already used to working with a team and quickly bonded with our Panther family,” she said. “To say she was excited to qualify for states on vault is an understatement. Both she and Courtney screamed in excitement when they saw they qualified for next weekend.”
Crawford is in her final year competing for the Panthers and there were plenty of expectations and hope heading into the season. While an elbow injury sidetracked some of those goals, she hasn’t let it stop her.
“Courtney’s elbow injury has been quite the struggle this season, but she has not let that hold her back,” Wojtkowiak said. “It is extremely exciting to have had her qualify for states on beam since we have been watching her work so hard on the event all season.”
Crawford injured her elbow right after the first competition of the season and sat out the following two competitions. She reinjured it later in the season and has been competing only on beam at the Northern Lakes League championships and district.
“I usually compete all four events, but beam has always been my strongest, so I was glad I could at least continue on that event,” Crawford said. “With support from my coaches and teammates, I was able to stay positive and look for good in this unfortunate situation.
“While I tried my best to stay positive, there were also times of doubts, especially leading up to districts. I went into the meet telling myself this could very well be my last competition ever, so I had to give it all that I had.
“Once I landed my dismount, I knew that I gave my best effort and I had to wait and see how the rest of the competition played out. After finding out that I qualified to states, I had a sense of relief and felt blessed to qualify to states and be able to compete one last time.”
According to Wojtkow-iak, the extra time and practice Crawford has put in after practice on skills is exactly why she was named team captain entering the season.
“She has never once complained about being at an entire practice, even when done practicing the only event she was able to compete,” Wojtkowiak said.
“She has stayed until the entire team has left so that she can cheer them on and help them perfect their own skills. She has been a phenomenal team leader.”
Crawford and Borello will compete in the individual competition on Saturday afternoon. Tickets may be purchased through ohsaa.org/tickets.