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Niwot High School's Maeve Flentie performs ...
Niwot’s Maeve Flentie performs her floor routine during a meet against Broomfield on Oct. 12. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

“Quit” isn’t in Maeve Flentie’s vocabulary.

The sophomore out of Erie, who competes for Niwot, has taken to heart the true grit often unseen by the glamor of a high school gymnastics meet. She has the scars to prove it.

“There were days that her hands were bloody from bars, and she just kept going,” Niwot coach Marisa Purcell said. “She never stopped. We’d just rewrap them. That’s one of those things that you can’t teach. That’s character. That’s knowing that leadership — it’s determination. What that brings to a team? It’s hard to even put into words.”

When Flentie first stepped into the gym for her second year with the Cougars, she knew she would be taking on a much different role than that of her freshman year. This season, as a relative newcomer herself, she would need to step up to lead the young group of girls.

That meant overcoming her own mental blocks, her own fears, and guiding her teammates through example.

Niwot High School's Maeve Flentie performs on the beam during the 4A State Gymnastics meet in Thornton on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)
Niwot High School’s Maeve Flentie performs on the beam during the 4A State Gymnastics meet in Thornton on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

“I definitely have grown a lot. I think a lot of that is because I realized how much my team needs me,” Flentie said. “I worked super hard in the summer. I did have a couple injuries last year. I sprained my ankle during tryouts. This year, I definitely pushed myself a lot more to make sure I had those skills and could be in the top spot on varsity.”

Her blood and sweat paid dividends when, for the first time, she nailed her tsuk on the vault during the Class 4A state meet last month. The 8.600 score that resulted, as well as her 9.025 in bars, her 9.000 in beam and her 9.100 in floor earned her eighth place in the all-around competition. For that, and for her incredible dedication behind the scenes, Flentie was named the Times-Call gymnast of the year.

Purcell credits her success to the added confidence that comes with maturity, as well as the additional pressure the coaches had put on her from the start.

She took on the challenge with grace.

“Maeve’s super strong and she is probably one of the hardest workers in the gym — we saw that as a freshman — and was also willing to push a lot of things to the side to try new things,” Purcell said. “We always have what we call our one girl every year who we kind of throw new things at, that they have to get very quickly.

“Obviously, they have to be able to do that skill. Maeve was one of those as a freshman, competing a one and a half on floor for the first time at state last year and then this year, transitioning to doing a tsuk. She also started working on toe shoots on bars and just trying to add in those new skills and get that. The athleticism, that speaks for itself.”

Flentie helped lead a team comprised mostly of freshmen and sophomores to a third-place finish at the state meet and believes they can perform even better in the years to come. She’s excited to see not only what she can do, but what the rest of her Cougars can accomplish with a little more experience.

Her transition from club to the high school atmosphere just made it all the more special.

“It was super fun and I definitely felt more of the team experience since I’d been on the team before,” Flentie said. “I knew how much it meant to the team. With only two seniors, I knew that I had to step up and help out the freshmen. Next year, junior year, I’m really looking forward to it. Knowing we have such a young team, I think we’re going to improve a lot.”