AP NEWS

Lexy Ramler’s experience takes her to NCAA gymnastics championships

April 15, 2018 GMT

Despite being just 19 years old, gymnast Lexy Ramler has quite the resume.

The Winona Senior High School graduate was the Junior Olympic champion in the all-around and the bars in 2013. She won the all-around at the L’international Gymnix Challenge in Montreal in 2016 before being the final cut for the Olympic National team at the Olympic Trials in 2016. She is also the reigning Junior National champion in the beam. She even has her own signature move that is in the Junior Olympic code of points as, ‘The Ramler.’

All helped her land a full scholarship to the University of Minnesota.

But, she will look to add another accomplishment to her record this week.

An NCAA Division I national championship.

The freshman showed poise qualifying for the NCAA championships finishing second in the all-around at the NCAA regionals on April 7 with a 39.500 — her second best mark of the season — to secure her spot in Friday’s session.

Even with a sold-out crowd of near-4,800 at the Maturi Pavilion in Minneapolis, the hometown kid was cool, calm, and collective even if she admitted that she was more nervous for this meet than for the Olympic trials two years ago.

“I think I was more nervous for this meet,” Ramler said. “There is more people relying on you. You are representing your university, your teammates are counting on you. The trials were much more individual and I’m surprised that there is more pressure here at regionals.”

But there is not much that rattles Ramler. She came into the season with lofty expectations and has lived up to them. She was named a First-Team All-American on the beam and a Second-Team All-American in the all-around and bars. She came to Minnesota with high expectations from not only herself, but from her coaches and teammates, and she has delivered on them.

“She’s done pretty much everything that we hoped for this season,” Gophers coach Jenny Hansen said. “She’s been really clean, very consistent. She has adapted well to the world of college gymnastics because it’s certainly different than what she was used to doing. But she has done everything that we have hoped for her for her freshman year. And we are really excited to see what she can continue to do for her career.”

Ramler admitted the college life of balancing academics and gymnastics has been a challenge, but it has been well worth it. All of this has been a dream come true for the hometown kid, who grew up in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Michael before attending Winona Senior High School to train at KidSport Gymnastics in Winona.

Since she was a little girl, Ramler wanted to be a gymnast for the University of Minnesota. Growing up in St. Michael, she went to numerous Gophers training camps and even more meets as a spectator. Now she’s going to the NCAA championships supporting the M on her leotard.

“It was always a dream to compete for Minnesota, so yeah I’m definitely a hometown kid,” Ramler said. “Minnesota has been the best decision to stay close to family, they are great academically, I love the coaches and staff, the team. Competing this year has just been a blast representing the University of Minnesota and I’m definitely proud to wear the M.”

For some, having high expectations — plus the fact that you are performing for your hometown team that you grow up following — might be too much. But, not for Ramler.

“She has done a great job,” Hansen said. “I think there definitely comes some pressure with that, but I know that was one thing she could not wait to do, was to compete in front of her home state and represent the University. So she was really excited about that...There is definitely a balance, but for her it’s important that she just stays in the moment and enjoying the opportunity she has ahead of her.”

It helped that Ramler received quite a confidence boost before her collegiate career. She competed against the likes of Olympic medalists Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, and Gabby Douglas at the Olympic Trials for a right to be picked for the USA national team. They pick 13 with the top eight automatically qualify for the team. At the end of the day, USA gymnastics picked the top 13. Ramler finished 14th.

Ramler was disappointed, of course, yet, she was proud of herself. She displayed her rare talent, not only to others that she had the ability to compete with the best in the world, but more importantly it showed herself that she had what it took.

“I think that it definitely gave me confidence, knowing that I could definitely compete at that level,” Ramler said. “I completed those routines, I was in that environment, on the podium competing against all of those high-level athletes. It was definitely a confidence booster coming into college, knowing that I am competitive.”

It’s that confidence that will be key when Ramler heads down to St. Louis for the NCAA championships, which start on Friday. But at the end of the day, she understands that this is just the beginning for her.

“I’m just trying to go for the experience for sure, I’m going to do my best,” Ramler said. “But I’m still just a freshman, this year has been all about seeing how far I can go and really just enjoying the whole process, enjoying the traveling the competing, the craziness, so I’m just going to go out there and do what I normally do and have a blast.”