Gymnast brings experience

By Jason Arndt

When the music starts blaring, and the crowd gets energized, the adrenaline starts flowing for Wilmot Union High School gymnast Jessica Zeitler.

Wilmot’s Jessica Zeitler of the Burlington co-op gymnastics team stays focused during a balance beam routine at the Jan. 6 Emerald Classic Invite at Waterford (Rick Benavides/The Report).

Zeitler, a junior, uses the adrenaline rush to power through her floor exercise routine, which has been invaluable for the Burlington co-op gymnastics team since her arrival as a sophomore.

“The biggest adrenaline rush is definitely the floor exercise, with all of the dancing and all of the loud music,” said Zeitler, whose best score in event during her high school career is around 9.4.

“I focus on the upbeat music because it gets the crowd going,” Zeitler said, adding Mambo-themed music is the first genre she chooses from her playlist.

According to Burlington co-op coach Megan Chart, the floor exercise has been her strongest routine, noting her power and artistry on the mat.

With Zeitler’s power, she has been able to bounce back from an early season illness, and is returning to form.

“Her floor exercise has been great, she has been building up strength and getting back to the consistency that we had from her last year,” said Chart, who is in her third season as coach.

“She is very powerful and very artistic.”

The artistry started about a decade ago, when she took dance classes, and later joined Scamps Gymnastics club in Kenosha.

Zeitler, who left Scamps after her freshman year at Wilmot, decided to take her skills to Burlington to relieve some pressure from high stakes club athletics and be in a team-focused environment.

Since she arrived to Burlington co-op, Zeitler has grown fond of her teammates, stating they offer constant motivation.

“Everybody motivates each other,” she said.

Growth and maturity
At the time Zeitler arrived, according to Chart, she was a mystery, but has shown tremendous growth since.

“For me, it has been to watch because when she came out of club, I had no idea what she could do because she had that mental block,” said Chart.

As sophomore, Zeitler placed fourth in the floor exercise at the Southern Lakes Conference meet.

Entering her junior season, Zeitler has emerged as one of the team leaders, according to Chart.

“She brings a lot of experience from club,” Chart said.

This year, in the floor exercise, she notched a season-high 8.85 at the Jan. 13 triangular meet held in Franklin.

Two weeks later, at the 16-team Spartan Invite hosted by Madison Memorial, Zeitler finished in the upper half in three events, including the floor exercise, where she recorded an 8.75 to place 12th of 40 competitors.

Although the floor exercise brings her the most success, Zeitler enjoys the challenge of the balance beam.

“The beam is what I like best, because it is so difficult, and I like the challenge,” she said. “It is all the mental game.”

Along with building mental strength, Zeitler credits Chart for placing an emphasis on conditioning, which has been a critical piece of her recent improvements.

“I definitely gained a lot of my strength from Andrea, she really focuses on conditioning and strength,” she said. “She really pushes you to the max.”

Multi-sport athlete
Gymnastics, however, is not her only sport.

In the spring sports season, Zeitler is a member of Wilmot track team, where she specializes in the pole vault.

Zeitler uses her strengths in gymnastics in the pole vault.

“Pole vault is all gymnastics based,” she said. “Most gymnasts do pole vault.”

As a sophomore, she finished among the top five in all nine of her meets, including a personal best 9-feet-6 inches on four occasions.

Zeitler, who finished third at the SLC meet with a 9-6, followed up by placing fourth at the WIAA Division 1 regional hosted by Lake Geneva Badger to advance to sectionals in Stoughton.

In Stoughton, she placed fifth.

The Burlington co-op gymnastics team includes students from Badger, Union Grove and Williams Bay.


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