03/13/10 — Rosewood's Conger finishes with bronze medal

View Archive

Rosewood's Conger finishes with bronze medal

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 13, 2010 11:18 PM

The slight bobbles didn't break her concentration. Focused, poised and aware of that all-important consistent movement on the balance beam, Sarah Conger completed her routine and stuck her landing.

Taking a deep breath, Conger headed toward her coach and waited for the judges mark.

The scoreboard flashed 9.9.

"I was really excited about that," said Conger, a senior at Rosewood.

Although Conger didn't win the event, the runner-up finish was a springboard to a successful career-ending performance in the All-Star/Independent Division of the N.C. High School State Championship gymnastics meet.

Conger recorded an all-around score of 38.90, good enough for the bronze medal among competitors from schools who don't have enough athletes to comprise a team. The 17-year-old placed second in the floor exercise (9.75), fourth on bars (9.5) and fifth on the vault (9.75).

"I just went out there and had fun because I knew it was my last one," said Conger, who trains at Morgan's Gymnastics in Smithfield. "It's the best meet I've had since I've been doing high school gymnastics, so I was really proud of myself."

It was the final tune-up for Conger's next season -- the United States Gymnastics Association circuit. The state meet is just two weeks away in Wilmington.

Conger works out four hours each day at the facility and spends 45 minutes on each event. She goes through drills on the vault, polishes simple things on the beam and bars, and works on basic tumbling for the floor exercise.

Toward the end of the week, Conger puts her entire routine together.

She prefers the vault because she usually receives the highest marks in that event. But she confesses the floor exercise and bars are the most-challenging for Conger.

"The hardest part for me is keeping my cardio up because by the end of my (floor) routine, it's tough to finish that last tumbling pass because I'm so tired," said Conger. "It's the same way with bars. I'm so out of breath trying to pull my routine together. It's kind of frustrating.

"You just have to keep with it and you'll eventually get it."

Conger's classmates at Rosewood are surprised to hear there is a gymnastics team. During her freshman and sophomore seasons, Conger competed along sister Kaitlyn and another team. Kaitlyn graduated and is in college, and the teammate decided not to continue, which left Sarah to carry the Rosewood banner.

"It does get kind of lonely when you're the only competing for your school, but my teammates from here (Morgan's) are with me at my meets," said Conger. "They give me a lot of support since there is no one else from my school there. It's awesome."

A gymnast for 10-plus years, Congers hopes to compete on the collegiate level. She's applied to North Carolina State, which has a gymnastics team, and UNC Greensboro, which sponsors gymnastics as a "club" sport.

If walking onto a program isn't a possibility, Conger might find a local facility that has gymnastics so she can continue to do something that she loves.