by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Led by state all-around qualifier Alex Felt, the Elk River-Zimmerman gymnasts made a strong showing in the Section 7AA hosted by the Elks on Friday evening.
The Elks scored 135.25 points and placed fourth among nine teams in a meet dominated by No. 2 ranked Cambridge-Isanti.
Cheering them on were the Rogers portion of the co-op that won Section 5AA on Wednesday.
“Section week is a long week but both of our programs did fantastic,” reflected coach Jenn Bartlett, whose combined team was Northwest Suburban Conference champion.
Felt, a senior, placed fourth all-around, behind three Cambridge-Isanti athletes, with 36.375, and was second on floor exercise with 9.375.
She’ll compete in state individuals in those two categories next Saturday evening, joining Rogers teammates Sabrina Hoover and Leah Perrault, also all-around qualifiers.
“This means a lot. A lot. I’ve been wanting to go to state for a long time,” said Felt, who just missed last year in floor exercise. She’s been an Elk three years and was with Twin Cities Twisters before that.
Felt also placed fifth on beam with 9.325 and sixth on bars with 8.925. She just missed “state” on beam, tying for fourth, with the tie-breaker (superior judge’s score) going to a Cambridge girl.
“She gets to go to state in two events, and that’s fantastic,” said Bartlett. “It’s what she’s wanted since she joined our program in 10th grade … This was definitely the highlight of her career.”
Elk junior Alana Embury placed 10th all-around with 34.925 and got on the podium for vault with 8.925 for seventh place.
“We knew that both Alex and Alana had a chance,” said Bartlett. “Cambridge came in here really tough, tougher than we hoped.”
The Elks had five girls going all-around, each holding her own as Alli Grillo scored 32.875, Jessica Sadlowsky 32.025, and Stephanie DeLong 31.200. DeLong is a Zimmerman student.
Most of the season, only Embury was a full-time varsity gymnast, so the fourth-place finish was a very upbeat conclusion to the season for the rest of the squad.
“Our score was fantastic. We were just hoping for a 133,” said Bartlett. “It’s a tribute to the rest of our athletes. Everybody stepped up and workd hard. We got some great scores on vault and on floor.”
Felt added: “Our team did awesome. Our goal was 133. I am so proud of all of them.”
Felt had a good start on bars, highlighted by a double back twist. After she stuck her landing, her face was flush with relief and joy.
“That’s only the third double back I’ve stuck the whole season,” she said.
She then stuck her beam, highlighted by a back handstand.
“I was really trying to ‘squeeze’ the whole time so I would stay on the beam,” said Felt, which she accomplished.
Her floor was the highlight as she cruised through a one-and-a-half twist, a front handspring to layout, and a double back handspring to full twist.
In vault, where she has her lowest skills, a front handspring full twist, she scored 8.75 for 12th.
Cambridge-Isanti, which nipped a much stronger Elk team for the title last year, repeated easily with 148.225 to win by nine points over runner-up St. Francis.
The Bluejackets had the top three all-arounders in Emily Vogelpohl (37.45), Ana Solbreck and Cheri Evenson, with Vogelpohl winning vault, Solbreck winning floor, and Nadia Nassef winning beam. The other champion was Forest Lake’s Jessica Dhaene on bars.
1. Cambridge-Isanti 148.225
2. St. Francis 139.325
3. Forest Lake 136.775
4. Elk River-Zimmerman 135.325
5. Blaine 132.650
6. Chisago Lakes 132.425
7. Coon Rapids 128.150
8. Anoka 111.000
9. Andover 58.650
1. Emily Vogelpohl, Cambridge-Isanti, 37.450
2. Ana Solbreck, Cambridge-Isanti,, 36.375
3. Cheri Evenson, Cambridge-Isanti, 36.950
4. Alex Felt, Elk River-Zimmerman, 36.375
10. Alana Embury 34.925
14. Alli Grillo 32.875
19. Jessica Sadlowsky 32.025
21. Stephanie DeLong 31.200
1. Vogelpohl 9.250
2. Solbreck 9.200
3. Marissa Eggerichs, Blaine, 9.175
4. Autumn Lefever, St. Francis, 9.150
7. Embury 8.925
9. Sadlowsky 8.850
12. Felt 8.750
18. Grillo 8.550
32. DeLong 8.250
1. Jessica Dhaene, Forest Lake, 9.450
2. Evenson 9.425
3. Vogelpohl 9.400
4. Solbreck 9.150
6. Felt 8.925
13. Embury 8.700
29. Sadlowsky 7.375
31. Grillo 7.325
33. DeLong 7.00
1. Nadia Nassif, Cambridge-Isanti, 9.550
2. Vogelpohl 9.450
3. Solbreck 9.425
4. Evenson 9.325
5. Felt 9.325
10. Embury 8.700
13. Grillo 8.400
28. Sadlowsky 7.350
29. DeLong 7.300
1. Solbreck 9.600
2. Felt 9.375
3. Vogelpohl 9.350
4. Evenson 9.325
17. DeLong 8.650
20. Grillo 8.600
22. Embury 8.525
25. Sadlowsky 8.450