The Minnesota State High School League's class AA state gymnastics tournament is a familiar stage for Farmington Tiger senior Lauren Slayton. She's been there before and this year she returned for the third and final time with a different perspective than in the past.
"I was much more prepared for state this year," Slayton said. "It was more special, mainly just because I'm a senior. I knew that I would be competing my routines for the very last time which caused me to take in and enjoy every moment."
Slayton said the biggest improvement she has made since last year's state tournament was mentally.
"My attitude towards my skills has changed drastically," she said. "I began to actually feel confident with the things I was doing."
She credited her head coach, Amanda Lund, with helping her build that confidence.
"For starters, she's an amazing coach," Slayton said. "She's always giving off a positive energy and would do absolutely anything for our team. We are beyond blessed to have her as a coach. She has taught me to truly believe in myself with what I'm doing. She helped me fall in love with the sport all over again."
That confidence showed in her last appearance at state as she competed in the all-around after qualifying for two events last year.
Slayton qualified for the all-around at the section 1AA meet. At state, she took ninth in the all-around with a combined score of 37.4, which put her on the podium. She placed 16th on the vault (9.45) and uneven bars (9.375), 30th on the balance beam with a nine flat and sixth on the floor exercise with a 9.6.
With that ninth-place finish, Slayton said it the season was a success.
"I'm very happy with how this year went. I went in with one goal, which was to medal on something and I did just that," she said.
Does the future hold any more gymnastics for Slayton?
"As of now, I do not have any plans for collegiate gymnastics," Slayton said. "This last season has been great and I think that's the best way to end my career."
Slayton finishes her prep gymnastics career holding several records as part of FHS gymnastics, including the school's all-around record which she set at the section meet to go on to state.