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Samantha Singleton competed at two winter sport state meets as a freshman

Singleton posing after the Gymnastics State Meet. Courtesy of the Instagram account @solongymnastics
Singleton posing after the Gymnastics State Meet. Courtesy of the Instagram account @solongymnastics

Solon High School freshman Samantha (Sam) Singleton competed at both the Indoor Track State meet on Friday March 1 and the Gymnastics State meet on Sunday March 3. An injury took her out halfway through the track meet on Friday, and at the gymnastics meet on Sunday, Singleton scratched twice on vault, and on her third and final attempt, didn’t execute her top tier vault she was hoping to make it on the podium for. However, Singleton fought through these adversities and clinched third place in the state on the floor exercise with a season high floor score of a 9.425.

Singleton qualified for the gymnastics state vault, uneven bars, floor, and all-around (AA). AA qualification is a significant accomplishment, as the last Solon gymnast to qualify for AA was back in the 2012-2013 season, over ten years ago. She qualified for the indoor track 60 meter dash, and her relay teams qualified for the 4×2 (Sam Singleton, Cari Lewis, Evan Nathanson, Zoey Russel) and the 4×4 (Morgan Hillman, Sam Singleton/Kaya Parker, Camryn Cayne, Cari Lewis).

High school sports require massive time commitments and strict dedication. Balancing so much can force student-athletes to specialize in just one sport. This is not the case for Singleton–although she was battling nerves, she put immense time and effort into both sports leading up to the state meets.

“I was nervous for both the track and gymnastics state meets because it was my first time at a high school state meet, but it was a good experience to help me move forward,” Singleton said. “Physically it was a lot of training. I went to track right after school for an hour and a half and then straight to gymnastics for another three hours. I [also] had to keep up with school work and try to maintain the stress of the meets.”

Brian Sabol, track coach and Environmental Science and Forensics teacher at SHS, is optimistic about Singleton’s future.

“She is blessed that she is very physically gifted,” Sabol said. “In addition, she has a tremendous work ethic that allows her to succeed at both sports. Her future is very very bright. She has only run indoor track for me, but she already has run the third fastest time in the history of our school [for the 60 meter dash.]”

Missy Gillen, the SHS head gymnastics coach, admires Singleton’s ability to overcome adversity at such a young age and at such a big meet.

“Coming into states as a freshman from the [most competitive] district of Ohio is intimidating in itself,” Gillen said. “[Starting the meet] off on her best event, vault, and [not having it go the way she planned] was difficult.

“[But] honestly, of all of my state competitors, I truly have never been more proud of the way she finished the meet with such a huge [floor] routine [that won her the bronze medal,]” Gillen said. “[I] have a lot of hope for her in the next three years.”

Freshman gymnast Hayleigh Hoegler and Singleton go way back as teammates.

“[We’ve been doing gymnastics together] since we were about 6 or 7. I’m 14 now, so that is about seven years,” Hoegler said. “She is always working hard, and she always puts a smile on my face. If I’m upset, whenever I go to gymnastics, she’s always there for me. [It’s also] really cool training with her–she is just such a good gymnast.”

Singleton enjoyed her seasons, and she recognizes her accomplishments.

“[This season] I got to run against college level athletes, and I got to compete against very impressive gymnasts,” Singleton said. “The highlight of my track season was when our 4×2 got a P.R. and got ranked fourth in the state, and the highlight of my gymnastics season was getting our highest team score of [135.700].”

The 2023-2024 winter season was just the beginning for this freshman. She has three more years to reach her full potential.

“She needs to focus on consistency, and not overworking [herself] at the gym,” Gillen said. “That will be her key to success and victory [in her upcoming years.]”

Sabol agrees, Sam has yet to reach her pinnacle.

“She has the ability to become the best sprinter we’ve ever had,” Sabol said.

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