Hinsdale Central’s Brenk comes to grips with fears
Hinsdale Central's Cayley Brenk performs a floor routine at an IHSA regional at Hinsdale Central Jan. 31, 2013 in Hinsdale. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Friday-Saturday Wrestling: Shepard Invite Tuesday Boys basketball: vs. York, 7 p.m.
Wrestling: Shepard Invite
Boys basketball: vs. York, 7 p.m.
Updated: March 8, 2013 6:36AM
HINSDALE — Hinsdale Central junior Cayley Brenk hit her head performing a Yurchenko pike on vault before the season at the school’s Red and White practice meet.
While the physical impact was some wooziness that lasted the day, it’s the mental effect that the gymnast has been working all season to overcome.
“That was kind of a setback for me,” Brenk said. “I was in a daze for the rest of the day because I had never done that before. That shook me up a little bit because I didn’t know how to handle it.”
The wrong positioning of her hands led to the bad mount and it’s something that she thought about at meets. And thinking too much is not something gymnasts want to do.
“She has some fears in gymnastics and we’re just trying to work through those,” Red Devils coach Kim Estoque said. “She’s just starting to put everything together now and it’s the right time, which is great. She’s had a rough start but she’s come along fine.”
Senior Erin Morgan, the team’s top all-arounder, offered to help Brenk as well.
“I was just trying to give her advice of how to get over her fear of that vault,” Morgan said. “I just tried to tell her what I would want to be told if I was in that situation. I told her, ‘You just have to go for it.’ ”
While her coach and teammates have been supportive, Brenk also drew some good advice from Kristen Grilli. The former Hinsdale Central gymnast currently is a freshman at the University of Wisconsin.
“She does the same vaults, so that’s been really helpful to me since no one on the team does that vault,” Brenk said. “She has the school vault record with that vault so she knows how to help me and motivate me.”
Brenk has switched to a Yurchenko tuck on her first vault at meets. If she nails it, she switches to the pike for her second attempt. Last season she scored a career-best 9.55 doing the pike and knows that’s the skill that best wows the judges. Brenk took third in vault at the Hinsdale Central Regional on Jan. 31 with a score of 9.225.
“I’ve been scoring around 9s, so 9.225 is really good,” Brenk said. “I did one tuck and landed it and then I tried a pike. I touched my hands on the ground, though, so it was .5 points off.”
Brenk was fourth in all-around at regional with a 35.25. She was also fourth on uneven bars and balance beam to help Hinsdale Central win the team title. They were scheduled to compete Wednesday at the Hinsdale Central Sectional.
“The season started kind of rough for me so I’m glad I’ve been getting more consistent lately,” Brenk said. “I’m getting a lot more consistent on bars and floor too, which is good.”
Brenk’s introduction to gymnastics was a little different than most competitors. She is the first from her family to try it after beginning her journey with ballet class around first grade.
“My ballet teacher told me that my legs were not built for ballet and I should leave and go to gymnastics,” Brenk said. “I hated ballet but when I got to gymnastics I started having fun.”