Experience helps Plum’s Kvortek capture WPIAL gymnastics gold medal in bars event

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Saturday, March 6, 2021 | 10:01 AM


When Sarah Kvortek placed fifth on bars at last year’s WPIAL individual gymnastics championships at Moon High School, her sights quickly were set on soon rising to the top of the medals podium.

The Plum sophomore fulfilled that title goal Feb. 27 as her return to WPIALs brought championship gold on bars in the Intermediate I (Gold) division.

“I felt more comfortable and more experienced this year,” said Kvortek, whose 8.700 on the bars bested the field, including Central Valley’s Megan Grimm, the all-around champion.

“I had a better feeling of what it was going to be like. That helped calm any nerves, and I just went out and competed. I was just better this year than I was last year.”

Looking out from the top podium step after receiving her WPIAL gold medal, Kvortek said, was an amazing feeling.

“It was so awesome because it was something that I’ve worked so hard for,” she said.

“I’ve had family, friends, club teammates, so many people support me along the way. I just wanted to win one WPIAL medal — bronze, silver or gold. It didn’t matter to me. But I had no idea it was going to be a gold one. It made the experience that much sweeter.”

Kvortek said she didn’t know she finished first until the judges read off all of the places for bars up to second, leaving her as the only name left unread.

“At WPIALs, you are competing against the best of the best, and my (bars) score was only .05 higher than last year,” Kvortek said.

“I added in a more difficult skill with the hopes of getting a higher score. To see the 8.700, I’m not going to lie, was a little disappointing. Usually, girls score in the 9s and the higher 8s. But I think because it was WPIALs, and it was the best of the best, they were judging it a little tougher.

“I didn’t know it was going to be enough to get me a medal. After they called fourth place, I was happy to know I at least got a medal. Then, they announced third and second; it was a great feeling.”

Kvortek said that at WPIALs, there often is little room for error.

“Every little toe point or the smallest mistake can add up to the final score,” she said. “You have to really be at your best to be almost perfect.”

As with her freshman year, Kvortek qualified for WPIALs in all four disciplines — vault, floor exercise and balance beam, in addition to bars — during regular-season competitions. She brought home 11th in the all-around.

The all-around is the total score a gymnast achieves when adding up all four individual-event scores. She also was 17th on the beam (8.400).

Grimm captured the all-around title with the help of three top-two finishes. She also was runner-up on beam and took first on vault to go along with an eighth on floor.

At this year’s WPIAL meet, covid restrictions limited the crowd to two spectators per competitor, creating a different atmosphere from past events.

“It was really down,” Kvortek said. “But because of the livestream, my aunts and uncles and some of my other family members were able to watch me compete. That was pretty cool.”

The PA Classic, a high school state meet, was slated for last Friday and Saturday at Monaca Turners in Monaca, but Kvortek did not compete there. Instead, the USA Gymnastics Level 8 competitor is focusing her attention on training in all four disciplines for the Diamond XCEL club state championships April 30 to May 2 at Penn State.

“I am definitely excited for states,” said Kvortek, a member of Ultimate Gymnastics in Delmont.

“I’ve qualified before, but this time, I feel exceptionally prepared. I am ready to go and compete.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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