Sports

‘Adrenaline rush’: That’s what Redmond’s Mukerjee will be feeling at 4A state gymnastics meet

Redmond High’s Sierra Mukerjee is surrounded by some of her championship medals.  - Courtesy of Petra Mukerjee
Redmond High’s Sierra Mukerjee is surrounded by some of her championship medals.
— image credit: Courtesy of Petra Mukerjee

Sierra Mukerjee gets a thrill out of leaping, tumbling and dancing.

When she's in the spotlight, the Redmond High freshman steps up her floor exercise routine a few notches.

"It's like an adrenaline rush," she said. "You can't explain it… when the crowd's watching you and your team is cheering you on."

At a small 4-foot-11 stature, Mukerjee has been hitting her front pike "super high" on the floor this season and she'll be displaying that skill and others on the floor, vault and beam at the 4A state meet this weekend at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Center. Her preliminary schedule today will be: beam at 10:05 a.m., floor at 10:55 a.m. and vault at 11:45 a.m. The finals will begin at 11:20 a.m. tomorrow.

The 15-year-old placed in the top 10 in those events at the recent district meet, including a fourth-place finish on the floor (9.6) and a fifth-place finish on the vault (9.25).

Mukerjee's high scores this year are 9.625 on the floor and 9.4 on vault. She added that she hit four 9.4s in a row on vault during league competitions.

"I just try and clear my mind and think about how I'm going to land perfectly," she said of her vault success.

To prepare for state, this week's training sessions at the Eastside Gymnastics Academy in Woodinville consisted of conditioning, practicing more skills and doubling the amount of times she ran through her three events daily.

Mukerjee is confident in her skills, but also a little nervous heading into the state meet. It's a normal reaction, she said, adding that she's primed to compete.

Gymnastics flew onto Mukerjee's radar at age 4, and minus one year off to play ice hockey on a boys team at age 8, she's been spending time in the gym ever since. She previously spent five days a week, five to six hours a day working out with her club team at the Leading Edge Gymnastics Academy in Everett, but now she's toned down that intense schedule to focus on Redmond High gymnastics and "balance her life" with school activities, her mother Petra said.

Petra enjoyed watching Sierra shine at the districts meet. The girl who once held a pink hockey stick and battled with the boys took charge in the gymnastics arena. (Petra and her husband Kris are originally from Pickering, Ontario, Canada, which explains Sierra's hockey phase.)

"She's tough, she's always been a confident young lady. She's become more graceful in the sport," said Petra, adding that all the girls at districts put in solid efforts.

Sierra said to make it to state, it's all about "hard work, coming into practice, staying later, listening to your coach and having fun."

She credits one of her mentors, Chinese gymnast Lu Li, for providing encouragement. Li, who earned a gold medal with a perfect 10 on the bars at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, has coached Sierra and offered words of wisdom.

"She told me you should always strive to be happy no matter what you do. As long as you work to your potential," Sierra said.

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