Bridgeview baton twirler stars
Shinsato has two Top Five finishes in nationals
By Steve Metsch
Less than one point was all that kept Sarah Shinsato, of Bridgeview, from becoming a national champ twirling her baton.
Sure, she is disappointed. But she’s not complaining. After all, not many twirlers in the America Youth On Parade competition can say they won a pair of Top Five medals.
Sarah, 16, finished just a half-point behind the winner in the Strutting Category for baton twirlers at the event held July 23-27 on the campus of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend.
She also finished fourth among 43 in the Solo Category.
“I definitely did better than I expected,”” she said.
Solo is “probably the toughest category to place in,” she said.
“That’s actually the highest I’ve ever placed in solo at nationals. To get that high in the Top Ten is just an honor. I was very pleased,” she said.
Asked about that close call in the Strutting Category, she said “anything can be the difference.”
“It could be your hand, your leg, your toe. It’s a matter of what the judge wants. They can look for how sharp you are, how graceful you are, your presence, your showmanship,” Sarah said.
“It all depends on what the judge is looking for. It can be a half-point, a tenth of a point. I was very happy but … it happened to me before, to come so close again. I wondered what that half-point was,” she said.
Later the same day, July 25, Sarah competed in Show Twirling, She was among 35 twirlers, but did not do place in what usually is her strongpoint.
“It was the event I was most confident about. My other two, I wasn’t as confident. It may be because of how late I performed, 8:30 at night. That may have been a factor. And, also, nerves were a big thing. I dropped (my baton) toward the beginning and that kind of affected the rest of the routine,” she said.
Sarah’s mother, Donna, thought the late start took its toll.
“I honestly think she was tapped out for the day. She was so disappointed. You have no idea how many tears were flowing,” Donna said.
“I had to bring her back around and help her focus on winning a second and a fourth. Some girls don’t even walk (out) with one medal. She won two. That’s really something,” added Donna.
Sarah represented the Bridgeview Starlets as a soloist in the advanced competition.
“I definitely did better than I expected. My whole reason why love twirling so much is I love to perform and I love making people smile. If I know that I did that, then I did my job,” Sarah said.
She and her three Bridgeview teammates hoped to compete in the novice division, but an ankle njury to Abby Komperda prevented that. Starr Bradley, Abby’s sister Ava, and Sarah did perform as a three-person team, but were not eligible to win.
Donna, herself a baton twirler with the Starlets in her youth, is proud of her daughter.
Sarah is home schooled, and entering her junior year. However, she will have a connection to Argo Community High School as she has joined the marching band there. That will be her twirling at football games.
There’s no rest for twirlers, either. Band practice started Monday.
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