A Northwoods newcomer to gymnastics is already making her presence known
BY EILEEN PERSIKE
The nation fell in love with the U.S. Women’s Olympic gymnastics team, the Final Five, over the past two dazzling weeks of competition. We watched their strength and grace, every backflip and double layout in awe, eyes glued to the television. While most of us could never imagine learning those skills, competing in a high-stress environment and bringing home top awards, one Rhinelander gymnast can.
In her first two years competition, 12-year old Ellery Werner won one National title and placed second at another. And she has only just begun.
It all started when Ellery asked to attend a gymnastics camp at UW-Oshkosh. After the first day, instructors suggested to her parents, Gregg and Theresa Werner, that they enroll Ellery in a gymnastics program, which they did. The closest program was Woodson YMCA in Wausau.
“She is young and still hungry to learn. We’ll let Ellery lead the way”
-Cheryl Randl, Woodson YMCA gymnastics Director
“We made a visit, and everything fell into place,” said Gregg. “She has been very lucky to have a great team of coaches who are extremely dedicated to the sport and the athletes.”
Gymnasts compete at levels 1-10; the elite level follows. That first year, Ellery competed as a level 3 gymnast, and won the YMCA National competition in Kansas, with an all-around score of 38.05. That means she performed on the vault, uneven bars, beam and floor exercise.
“I love each and every event,” Ellery said when asked which was her favorite. “They each have high and low points, along with challenges. Floor is a favorite because I love being in the air twisting and turning!”
After taking the National title in 2015, Ellery entered Nationals this past June, held in Long Beach, Calif. at level 7. She placed second overall with an all-around score of 37.05. Coach and gymnastics Director, Cheryl Randl says Ellery is a natural. “Her body line is beautiful – knees are straight, toes pointed.” The floor routine Ellery performed at Nationals “brought me to tears,” Randl confessed. “She carries herself well–you just want to watch her.”
“She catches on quickly to everything,” Randl said. “Every once in a while we come across a gymnast like Ellery – you have to challenge her. She advanced from level 3 to 7 in, really, just a year and a half.”
She is, according to coach Randl, very much a perfectionist, like many gymnasts. It’s a trait that no doubt helps Ellery balance practice and schoolwork in her busy life. “I make sure I use my study hall time to get work and projects done, or to work ahead a bit,” Ellery explained.
“The training is very intense,” Theresa said. “Ellery practices four or five days a week, for three-plus hours, so for her to handle that, along with keeping school and family commitments a priority, has amazed us.”
Ellery says she likes to follow the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team because they are “hard workers and very dedicated to the sport,” but also looks up to girls in her own program, called the Woodson Whirlers. She wants to continue working hard to become an elite gymnast and earn a college gymnastics scholarship. Gregg and Theresa say they are happy that she has found a sport she loves, and does well in. “Her passion for the sport and hard work has definitely helped her succeed.”
Coach Randl says after 40 years of coaching, she’s learned never to underestimate a child.
“She is young and still hungry to learn,” Randl said. “We’ll let Ellery lead the way.”
Ellery Werner is currently training at level 8 and will compete in both YMCA and USAG meets throughout the state beginning in the fall.