by Erik Nelson
She is the last one standing.
Elks senior Jaelyn Sorenson has made it to two Class 2A state gymnastics tournaments and is the only remaining varsity starter from the Elk River-Zimmerman team that ended the program’s 26-year state tournament drought three years ago.
Sorenson made the state tournament as both a freshman and a sophomore, but she missed the 2022 state tournament with an ankle injury.
Sorenson said it feels great to be back on the floor competing for the Elks, but she doesn’t take it for granted.
“I miss the environment of being in the gym competing with my team,” Sorenson said. “I feel refreshed. I feel better than past years. It’s my senior year. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to come back, but I ended up being fine.”
This season, Sorenson has proven to be a valuable member to the Elks, as Elk River is 5-0 and looking to win a section championship for the fourth season in a row, which has never been done before in program history. On Saturday, Jan. 14, during Elk River’s eighth-place finish at the Lakeville Invite at Lakeville North High School, she finished 10th in the all-around with 36.050 out of a possible 40 points. She tied for seventh place on vault with a 9.4 along with Owatonna’s Kendra Miller. Sorenson finished eighth on beam with a score of 9.15.
Sorenson’s leadership will be critical to the Elks’ success the rest of this season. Junior co-captain Sydney Martin tore her right ACL during practice on Saturday, Jan. 7, and will miss the rest of the season.
Head coach Anna Jouppi said Sorenson has been an important factor in Elk River’s success this season.
“Gymnastics is not an easy sport,” Jouppi said. “You’re going to be sore. You’re going to be tired, and luckily for us, she was able to recover and she has been able to be a leader and show the girls what it’s like to be a veteran and what to expect.”
Sorenson graduates from Elk River High School on Friday, June 9. This fall, she plans to attend the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and will major in forensic science. She will be less than 90 minutes north from former teammates Cadence Martie and Abby Rekstad, who are freshmen at North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota.
For now, Sorenson’s goal is to make it to the 2023 Class 2A state tournament as an individual and to have the Elks advance as a team as well to the Class 2A state gymnastics tournament at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul this February.
Sorenson hopes that younger gymnasts like Martin and Ally Rekstad can learn from her example after she graduates.
“I used to come into the gym with a bad mindset sometimes,” she said. “I hope people can sense my change and learn from that and have a better mindset coming into it and that getting hard on yourself is going to make it worse.”