Miranda Lund has experienced it all. After a season-ending injury as a freshman, she recovered and won the state all-around championship as a sophomore.
Now, as a junior at Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK, she still is trying to up her game.
Lund has moved up to a Level 10, the level required for college competition, pushing her abilities and learning new moves. She’ll stick with most of the ones she knows from Level 9 in school, but it’s one change in the situation that comes with going from chasing a title to fending off challenges.
“It doesn’t feel that different because last year I was chasing [my opponents],” said Lund, who won her title coming off a torn UCL. “I’m still preparing the same I would always — trying to do my best, it doesn’t change anything.”
Going into this season she emerged as a leader, helping younger teammates with everything from getting over mental blocks to working on their homework. Coach Debbie Rut said such a well-rounded person and athlete doesn’t come around that often.
“I don’t even have to tell her to do something,” Rut said. “She’s there for them in every sense.”
Renee Vulin, a fellow junior, has known Lund since childhood in club gymnastics. She has reached a similar level and she took 19th in the state all-around.
“You have to prove yourself, that you’re a good gymnast and that you’re at the top,” she said. “It took me two years to improve myself and get myself where I am now.”
The advancements she’s made over the past couple of years have been evident through the routines she’s worked out, but sometimes the roadblocks to getting better can be more in your mind than body.
“You have to keep telling yourself to push through your mental blocks and telling yourself you can do it,” Vulin said. “You can’t let your brain stop you; your muscles will let you remember everything.”
She’s part of a group of 11 returning state qualifiers from Nassau that includes Massapequa’s Gillian Murphy, who tied for 11th at the state all-around and took second in the county all-around between Lund and Vulin.
“I think we’re very strong,” Murphy said. “There are certainly other strong sections, but with Renee and Miranda, I’ve competed against them for almost three years now. Yeah, you want to beat them but at the same time you’re happy for them.”
Murphy came in second in three of the four events at Nassau’s state qualifying meet and she took 10th in balance beam at states. As she moves up in class at the high school level, she’ll have incoming talent to compete with.
“Varsity [competition] has always been about the team,” Murphy said. “It’s great when I do things for myself, you want to try and stay above, but that’s not the most important thing.”
Murphy’s Massapequa team claimed the county team title last season. Emily Corso and Jennifer Mullan were a part of that group and return this year.
For Murphy individually, she’s part of a county top-three that not only returns, but likely has another season to go after this. Coordinator Kim Rhatigan likened it to getting a holiday bonus to start the season. Time will tell high how they can go.
“I’m fired up because these kids are still here,” she said.