MERRILLVILLE | Years of hard work and patience are finally paying off for Heather Osorio and the Merrillville gymnastics team.
Osorio, a freshman, guided the Pirates to a third-place finish at the Duneland Athletic Conference meet on Saturday at Crown Point. Merrillville’s 108.125 was just more than a half point behind second-place Portage and Osorio finished fourth in the all-around.
“It was a great experience knowing that I’m up there with other girls who are really, really good,” Osorio said. “It feels pretty amazing.”
The Pirates have known of Osorio’s talent for several years, biding their time until she could eventually join the high school level.
“She’s been with us since she was a little girl. She came through the Merrillville gymnastics club,” coach Diane Roberts said. “We’ve known, from a very early age, that when she hit her freshman year, she would tremendously impact our scoring potential and the whole workings of our team.”
Osorio was Merrillville’s highest finisher at the DAC meet and had top-five scores on the beam and bars. Despite — or perhaps, in addition to — the high expectations for the freshman, there has been steady improvement throughout the season, and she is reaching her potential as the Pirates prepare for this Saturday’s sectional at Chesterton.
“I’ve done a lot better since the beginning, the first meet,” Osorio said. “I’ve worked harder; I’ve improved a lot from our first meet.”
A successful freshman season from Osorio means a lot to the Merrillville program, but Roberts said Osorio is still constantly looking for ways to improve her scores and take down more opponents.
“If you ask her, she will not be satisfied with anything she did,” the coach said. “But yet the scores are indicating that the judges appreciate her fine gymnastics. She’ll never be satisfied. She asked us how she could get a 10, and until she gets a 10, she’s not going to be satisfied. She asked us a ton of questions before we ever even left the gym. She’s always interested in knowing the competition so she can set herself up to win.”
Both Roberts and Osorio were glad the freshman was able to experience the DAC meet — with many teams, competitors and fans — before participating in her first IHSAA postseason. Osorio hopes to take that experience and help the darkhorse Pirates win their first sectional title since 1992.
“I think (the DAC meet was) really important so I can get ready for Saturday, for sectionals, to know how it feels and how it’s going to feel,” Osorio said. “To see what all the girls have and what they can do and try to do better.”
Regardless of the sectional outcome, Roberts is thrilled with the success of her super freshman, and knows the best is yet to come from Osorio.
“It was not a surprise the she was talented, but what is a big surprise is how she handles pressure,” Roberts said. “She handles pressure like a senior. She’s extremely competitive, extremely focused and has an uncanny ability to narrow in on what needs to be done.”