December 20, 2014

Medina
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Gymnastics: Cloverleaf’s Brandt ended career with multiple high finishes at state

Cloverleaf senior Maddie Brandt is the 2013-14 Gazette MVP for gymnastics. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE PHOTO ILLUSTRATION)

Cloverleaf senior Maddie Brandt is the 2013-14 Gazette MVP for gymnastics. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE PHOTO ILLUSTRATION)

Cloverleaf senior Maddie Brandt excelled at every high school gymnastics meet that she competed in.

The soft-spoken standout amassed 82 individual event victories, including 13 North East Gymnastics Conference titles and five first-place finishes at the Medina Sectional in writing one of the most impressive four-year resumes in Medina County history.

That’s just a snapshot of what she accomplished for the Colts.

“Honestly, there aren’t enough great words and things to say about Maddie when you’re trying to sum up her career,” Cloverleaf coach Stacy Thornburg said. “She is such a well-rounded young lady who is hard working, dedicated, motivated, enthusiastic, respectful and cheers for everyone on every team.

“Maddie also is one of the most stunning gymnasts that I’ve ever known. I can’t thank her enough for being such a great leader, competitor and friend to all of us.”

Brandt put an exclamation point on her career by earning All-Ohio honors in the maximum five events at the 2014 state meet, including third-place finishes in the all-around and balance beam.

She also finished sixth on the uneven parallel bars — becoming the first county gymnast since Medina’s Nicki Rymer in 2007 to medal in three events — and was seventh in the floor exercise and 10th on the vault at Hilliard Bradley High.

Those accomplishments brought Brandt’s career total to 13 state bids and made her an easy choice as The Gazette MVP for the second year in a row.

“It’s been a couple of weeks, but I’m still excited about everything because it was the culmination of such a great season,” the three-time state qualifier said. “Our team won the conference title and went undefeated, then made it to districts and Cassie (Grabowski) qualified for state for the first time.

“We had a wonderful group of girls and accomplished so much together, it still hasn’t sunk in that high school gymnastics are completely over for me.”

Fortunately for Brandt, she went out with a bang — and without any regrets — as the first county gymnast to reach the podium in back-to-back campaigns since Rymer in 2007-08.

The 5-foot-7 flier put together a near-perfect postseason that saw her score a career-high 36.85 in the all-around at the West Geauga District, then tie that mark one week later at state.

Brandt also swept all five NEGC event titles for the second straight season, claimed Medina Sectional crowns in the all-around and bars and was the county’s lone quintuple-qualifier to districts.

Along the way, she established season highs on the floor exercise (9.3 at state), vault (9.275 at West Geauga), bars (9.45 at West Geauga), and balance beam (9.4 at NEGC).

“The most impressive thing to me was how humble, modest and motivational that Maddie remained the entire time,” Wadsworth coach Rachel Frisby said. “I have never heard her brag about her accomplishments, which she certainly could because there are so many.

“She truly is a deserving Medina County MVP — not just because she is a powerful and decorated gymnast — but because she is always a good person who puts others’ needs before hers.”

Brandt, who will turn 18 in May, credits her faith for keeping her focused on the important things in life. She treasures spending time with her parents and siblings, and always made sure to represent Cloverleaf in a positive way while donning its green and black leotard.

Those strong values also helped her overcome an early challenge when she sprained her left ankle on the eve of the Colts’ first practice. Brandt was hobbled well into the new year with the injury and still hasn’t fully recovered from it, but found one ironic positive in the situation.

“The only time my ankle really hurt a lot was when I did something wrong, like undercut, so I was able to use it as motivation to hit my routines,” she said.

“I also relied on God more than ever this season, which gave me peace and helped me grow my faith through meets. I have learned to tell myself that it’s God’s will and He is in control.”

Brandt has adopted the same viewpoint about her future. She plans on studying biology or biotechnology as she pursues a career in the medical field, but would love to continue her athletic career while doing so.

Unfortunately, there are very few college gymnastics programs around the country, and the schools that are interested in Brandt are located at least one time zone away and compete at the NCAA Division III level.

“Academics have to come first for me, but I would love to do college gymnastics,” said Brandt, who competed at the last three state meets in the all-around, floor and vault. “There are a lot of really good medical programs in Ohio, so that’s where I will probably wind up, but who knows, there could be an upset if the right coach calls.”

In the meantime, Brandt continues to train at West Side Gymnastics — competing at Level 10 in club meets — while coaching up-and-coming athletes at Pinnacle. She is certain that the sport will always remain part of her life, as will all of the wonderful memories she made with the Colts.

“I couldn’t imagine how different things would have been if I hadn’t done high school gymnastics,” Brandt said. “I love Cloverleaf so much and enjoyed every part of doing something positive for the school with our team. We got great support this season at our meets, which meant more than I can say, and from other people during the school day.

“I will forever be grateful for all of the blessings that gymnastics has given me.”

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.