Due to concerns regarding the coronavirus, all remaining Boise State gymnastics events in the 2020 season have been canceled, including the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference (MRGC) Championships.
Before plans changed, however, all eyes were on junior Emily Muhlenhaupt to earn her first score of 10.000 on the uneven parallel bars.
Muhlenhaupt is currently ranked No. 4 in the nation for the event, and her career-high 9.975 is tied for the MRGC and Boise State records. Since achieving that score during the 2019 season, she has matched it twice but has yet to improve.
Thanks to her success this season, Muhlenhaupt received several postseason accolades including MRGC Bars Specialist of the Year, All-MRGC First Team and All-America First Team. Muhlenhaupt is Boise State’s fifth-ever All-American and the third on bars.
Because Muhlenhaupt consistently hovers near a 10.000, her team believes she is going to be the gymnast to bring home Boise State’s first perfect score on bars.
“It would just be so exciting,” said head coach Tina Bird. “We haven’t had a 10.000 on the bars as a school yet and I feel like she has done four routines in her career that really could have deserved a 10.000. So, it would be icing on the cake.”
Bird is devoted to perfecting Muhlenhaupt’s bar routine, making sure to correct every toe out of alignment and every wobble in her landing.
Muhlenhaupt matches the effort of Bird by practicing in the gym for upwards of four hours a day, every day. She recognizes there is work to be done and improvements to be made, and she makes the sacrifices necessary to do it all.
“[Muhlenhaupt] doesn’t give herself any outs. If she doesn’t feel good or if she has an organic chemistry test, she still pushes to do her stuff in practice,” Bird said. “She’s not allowing any excuses.”
With hours of practice and homework combined with pressure from fans and coaches, Muhlenhaupt finds refuge in the presence of her teammates.
“At times, it can be nerve-racking because it feels like everybody is watching you and I feel like I have a high standard to uphold but, at the same time, it’s exciting that people care,” Muhlenhaupt said.
Junior all-around gymnast Gabriela Bouza explained that the entire team is just as invested in Muhlenhaupt’s success as Muhlenhaupt is. When asked how she would react if Muhlehaupt scored a 10.000, Bouza did not hold back.
“I would probably have a heart attack and die. I’m not exaggerating,” Bouza said. “I would be speechless and cry and die.”
While Muhlenhaupt appreciates the support from fans, teammates and coaches, she often feels an obligation to please them, which can distract from the sport itself.
“I’m just trying to focus on doing the correct technique instead of thinking about all these extraneous things,” Muhlenhaupt said. “It’s like I have this pressure on me to be so great.”
Because she is 0.025 points away from a 10.000, Muhlenhaupt knows she is on the right track.
“It’s definitely been a long time coming, but I feel like it’s within my grasp and hopefully I get it eventually,” Muhlenhaupt said.
When Boise State gymnastics returns in 2021, fans will get to see senior Muhlenhaupt strive for her career goal of a perfect 10.000 and possibly see their Broncos take home their first perfect score on the uneven parallel bars.