by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
The Elk gymnastics team was riddled with injury and illness most of the season but still cruised to its third straight conference crown.
The Elks capped an 8-0 run through Northwest Suburban competition by scoring 142.25 points to beat Coon Rapids (121.80) and Anoka (91.125) in a conference triangular at home Tuesday evening.
The Elk River-Zimmerman-Rogers is 9-0 overall and ran its win streak to 25 over three seasons.
“We have a lot of depth, and we can have people out and still win,” said senior Sabrina Hoover, who won all the events and scored 37.50 in her final home meet on Senior Night. “We have stayed strong through the years because we know how to mesh as a team and we know what each other needs.”
Hoover, state all-around champion the past two years, first in Class A and then AA, has been part of all three conference champ teams.
“It means a lot. A lot,” said Hoover about the team laurels. “And last week was the first time we had everybody back. Last week and tonight.”
The Elks, led by veterans Hoover and junior Leah Perrault this year, lost two all-staters from last year as Jena Jondahl graduated and her sister Kaylee went back to club gymnastics plus two other strong seniors in state qualifier Brooke Bistodeau and Kayla Kampsen.
“We knew even without Jena and Kaylee we still had the depth,” said coach Jenn Bartlett, ratting off a list of gymnasts who stepped up this year — Alana Embury, Alyssa Walton, Jessica Sadlowsky, Alex Felt, Ali Grillo. “We are very excited to have a three-peat. That is very difficult to accomplish in gymnastics.”
Barlett had a three-peat earlier in her career, too, and noted that the Anoka team’s coach (Jackie Deiley) and assistant coach were co-captains on that team.
The Elks tied Centennial for the title two years ago and have won it outright the last two years.
Perrault scored 35.575, Embury 34.30 and eighth-grader Walton 34.20 for the next three slots in the triangular.
A highlight for the Elks was going 5-for-5 on beam for the second straight meet, meaning all five did their routines with no falls.
The Elks will close the regular season at the Breck Invitational on Saturday.
Then the squad will split into two for sectionals. The Elk River-Zimmerman girls will host Section 7AA on Friday evening, Feb. 18. The Rogers girls will compete in Section 5AA on Wednesday, Feb. 16, in Park Center. The Royals are defending champions.
“The Elk River girls have a good chance for individual advancement to state with Alex Felt and Alana Embury,” said Bartlett. “The Rogers girls have a good chance to go back to state as a team.”
Said Hoover about the annual split at the end of the season: “It’s the third year and I’ll know how it goes, but it’s always tough, especially with all the seniors split down the middle.”
Honored on Senior Night were Hoover, Felt, Grillo, Kassie Hall, and Katelyn Fiss.
Elks 142.25, Coon Rapids 121.8, Anoka 91.125
1. Sabrina Hoover, Elks, 37.60
2. Leah Perrault, Elks, 35.575
3. Alana Embury, Elks, 34.30
4. Alyssa Walton, Elks, 34.20
5. Amber Kriebel, CR, 33.475
6. Paige Jones, CR, 30.925
7. Shanna Sipe, CR, 30.775
8. Kennedy Covel,CR, 26.40
9. Kathryn Johnson, CR, 24.95
10. Emily Peterson, Anoka, 23.05
1. Hoover 9.175
2. Perrault 8.95
3. Embury 8.75
4. Jessica Sadlowsky, Elks, 8.70
5. Walton 8.675
6. Kriebel 8.50
7. Jones 8.30
1. Hoover 9.55
2. Alex Felt, Elks, 8.50
3. Perrault 8.35
4. Sipe 8.20
5. Embury 8.15
6. Walton 7.95
7. Jones 7.60
1. Hoover 9.40
2. Perrault 9.175
3. Kriebel 8.90
4. Embury 8.85
5. Walton 8.35
6. Ali Grillo, Elk,s 8.15
7. Jones 6.925
1. Hoover 9.475
2. Walton 9.225
3. Perrault 9.10
4. Embury 8.55
5. Kriebel 8.525
6. Felt 8.40
7. Jones 8.10