It's time for another Meet-n-Greet session.|
Wesley “Wes” Haagensen is another of those ‘new faces’ people may not recognize. He and teammate Jake Dalton were ‘last minute replacements’ (Note: Nice little article which interviews Dalton there.) after the men’s selection committee named David Sender and Sasha Artemev to the World Team. Artemev withdrew due to injury, and Sender withdrew for retirement (and vet school).
Only two months shy from his 24 birthday Wes has been around since the last quad, mostly working in the junior ranks. In 2002 he did wonderfully in the junior division. He also previously competed for the University of Illinois during which time he won a good number of titles and awards. Former teammate (and current assistant coach) Justin Spring is quoted as saying that he has no real weak event. Inside Gymnastics, in an article about the results from Nationals, had this to say about him:
Then there’s third-place Wes Haagensen, who struggled with his future in the sport for years. Calling himself “badly beat up” by NCAA competition at Illinois, Haagensen, a former Junior National Team member, never quite made the senior squad cut. [During Nationals coverage, Tim Daggett mentioned a good amount of injuries in the past, especially during the latter years of Wes's college career.]
But about six months ago Haagensen rededicated himself to the sport, moving from Illinois to the U.S. Olympic Training Center, something he now calls, “the best decision of my life.”
At the 2009 Nationals he finished 3rd in the All-Around, 3rd on still rings, 5th on high bar and 7th on parallel bars. This is a huge improvement over the 2008 year, during which he finished 22 in the All-Around (partly due to not competing two events during finals). Wes really credits his new coach and gym for this improvement. He was actually featured on the Universal Sports broadcast of night two during the 2009 Nationals, which means more videos. The following all come from that broadcast.
High Bar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaSmiEK6kZ8
Parallel Bars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erai-QI8D34
Pommel Horse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1GTY2BtKfc
Still Rings: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pl3dfzjPOo8
Floor Exercise (with breakdown of elements): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNx5ibKVOUc
If I may add my own take on Wes, I’d say he’s one to watch in the future. I see him more as a Joey Hagerty than Jonathan Horton at this point of his career; steady, clean and able to post solid scores on most, if not all, events. This could really serve him well in team competitions, particularly if he continues to improve.
Enough from me though. Look for Wes to compete next week in his first World Championships appearance. Tomorrow’s meet-n-greet will feature the ‘veteran’ of the group and current US National Champion Jonathan Horton.