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Gynmastics: Denmark’s Wilson eyes state title one last time
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Denmark's Sarah Wilson goes through her balance beam routine during the GHSA state gymnastics championship meet on May 3, 2019 at Ola High School. - photo by David Almeda

Sarah Wilson Floor Exercise

Getting to know Denmark senior Sarah Wilson

Favorite gymnast currently competing? Simone Biles.

All-time favorite gymnast? Gabby Douglas.

Favorite skill to perform? Shaposh 

Why? It feels like you’re flying, and then it’s really satisfying when I catch and it’s solid. It feels great.

Hardest skill you’ve ever competed? Yurchenko full on vault.

Favorite way to relax? Listen to music. I listen to music all the time. Music is my outlet.

Favorite artist? Drake.

Favorite food? Ice cream.

Favorite flavor? Salted caramel.

Show you’re loving right now? Jane the Virgin.

Biggest accomplishment of your gymnastics career so far? Winning all-around at state.

Favorite class you’re taking right now? Anatomy.

What do you want to do after college? I want to work in biomedical engineering, and I want to work with prosthetics. Maybe behind the scenes, designing prosthetics.

By Patricia Duffy

For the Forsyth County News

For the past decade, Denmark senior Sarah Wilson has dedicated her life to gymnastics — a predominantly individual sport.

The 2019 Class 1A-5A state all-around, vault, uneven bars and floor exercise champion is now eyeing one last season with the Danes before she enrolls at Yale University and joins their gymnastics program in the fall.

What most people don’t know is that Wilson never could’ve set foot in the halls of Denmark High School or joined the school’s gymnastics team, in favor of online schooling, and it would’ve been completely normal.

The majority of gymnasts at Wilson’s level, USA Gymnastics’ level 10 and beyond, spend more than 20 hours a week training with their club team, progressing their skills, and moving up the rankings. Some pursue a shot at the elite level and Olympics, while others train for a chance to join a college team.

Wilson took online classes in seventh and eighth grade in order to spend more time in the gym, but when it came time for high school, she was faced with a decision: continue with online schooling in favor of training or enroll in public school in favor of a somewhat normal high school experience.

“There were some doubts, quite honestly,” Wilson said about her decision to enroll in public high school. “Just because I knew that club gymnastics already takes up so much of my time.”

The thing that pushed Wilson to enroll, and subsequently join the gymnastics program, was the fact that she wanted to be a part of a team.

Wilson attended South Forsyth her first two years of high school and then was rezoned for the new Denmark High School at the start of her junior year.

When she showed up at the gymnastics team’s interest meeting, head coach Kaylee Satterfield was probably more excited than Wilson that the gymnast was joining the team.

“We were so excited that she showed up to that meeting,” Satterfield said. “Because I know it’s hard for the club girls. It’s so busy with their schedule. Doing high school is an extra added on to their schedule, and she balances it so well. We were lucky that she got zoned for Denmark.”

In Denmark’s inaugural season, Wilson earned four out of five possible individual titles at state, two perfect 10 scores, and helped her team become the state runner-up in the Class 1A-5A division, second only to state powerhouse North Oconee.

Looking back at her decision to enroll in high school, Wilson says she’s very pleased.

“It actually turned out better than I could have ever hoped,” Wilson said.

Sarah Wilson
Denmark senior Sarah Wilson earned four out of five possible individual titles at last year's state meet, two perfect 10 scores, and helped her team become the state runner-up in the Class 1A-5A division, second only to state powerhouse North Oconee. Photo by Patricia Duffy
With Wilson’s dream of being able to attend and compete for an Ivy League school secured, at least some pressure has been lifted off her shoulders, and just in time for her to enjoy her senior season.

“Last year, you could tell she was stressed about (the recruiting process),” Satterfield said. “It was something that she wanted. I know now that she’s got that, she’ll just have a fun senior year — just compete and have fun.”

This season for the Danes, Wilson will continue to compete modified versions of her club gymnastics exercises, but she has a few high-flying upgrades that she hopes to squeeze in at some point.

On uneven bars, where she scored her perfect 10 at state, Wilson hopes to add a Ray. A skill named after former U.S. gymnast and current Washington head coach, Elise Ray, it involves flying backwards over the high bar in a straddle position.

Elsewhere, Wilson is planning a front full dismount off the balance beam. She’ll also perform an action-packed floor exercise that will include a Rudi, double pike, and round off one-and-a-half through to front pike.

Individually, Wilson is striving for that elusive balance beam title, but her main goal is to help her team earn the school’s first gymnastics state title.

“I want to be able to prove to my team and the school and the state, to be quite honest, that I can make a routine on beam,” Wilson said. “I look forward to showing my skills.”

Beyond Wilson’s contributions, the Danes have seen their roster increase from seven to 11 athletes, three of which, including Wilson, are that top level 10 and committed to college programs. Junior Emma Davies (floor exercise, vault, and all-around) is committed to the University of Pennsylvania, and senior Chase Brock (balance beam, all-around) has signed to LSU.

At the high school level, this amount of level 10 talent, combined with other key contributors on the roster, makes for a stacked team that should go far in its goal to win state.

Denmark opens its 2020 season Feb. 22 against defending state champion North Oconee and Oconee County.