Injuries have plagued the SPASH gymnastics team. But that didn't stop the Panthers from capturing their second straight conference title last weekend.
SPASH can thank Paige Kurszewski for part of their success. And now she looks to balance her way to the state championships.
The balance beam is only four inches wide. And Kurszewski can tell you that staying on the beam requires a high level of mental toughness.
"It's pretty much the mind game because I know my body can do it and I know I've trained everything," Kurszewski said.
"And I know how to do it but it's just getting over the fear of everything and it's just concentration."
During competition, with the music from the floor exercise competition blaring and the crowd cheering, the SPASH senior does one thing before taking the beam.
"Before I salute, I literally just sit there and stare at nothing and think about nothing and calmness comes over me," Kurszewski said. "It's weird but that's just what I've always done."
And it works. Last Saturday, Kurszewski recorded the highest score on beam at the Great Northern Conference championships.
"Her elegance, she's just really graceful and I don't have to say much in terms of technique," Jennifer Bellmer-Callope said.
"She knows that she has to get her legs straight and she knows that her toes are or not pointed. She knows how to fix things really quick and really efficiently."
And when she falls, her teammates help her get back up.
"You always know there's somebody there for you and it's nice to have somebody to talk to if you mess up and you don't do as well as you wish you would have," Kurszewski said. "There's always somebody to talk to."
Kurszewski hopes she can talk about being in Madison, as she competes to qualify for the state championships this weekend.
Paige Kurszewski, Your Newsline 9 Athlete of the Week.