by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
The Rogers gymnasts were not quite at their best Friday evening at the state meet as the Royals finished seventh among eight teams, their same placement as last year.
The Royals scored 140.275 points at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavillion, a drop from their 142.60 to win their section.
The main culprit was balance beam, where four of the five Royals, including their star Sabrina Hoover, had a fall, costing 1.50 points right there. A better beam performance would have gotten Rogers up to sixth place but that’s as high as they could have gone.
Northfield repeated as state champion with 150.400 points, edging Roseville Area, which had 150.100.
“Overall, we’re pretty happy. We are here (at state) and that’s the hard part, that’s the main thing,” said coach Jenn Bartlett.
The Royals were solid in floor exercise with 36.550 and vault with 35.55. They scored 34.150 on bars, where Perrault, the only Royal to stick her beam, had a stop and two extra giant swings that cost her about a point. They scored 34.025 on beam.
Hoover, a senior who’ll try for her third consecutive state all-around title Saturday night, scored 37.875 all-around with a performance about the same as her section-winning 38.225 except for the slip on beam, only her second one all season.
Perrault, a junior who placed second to Hoover all-around at sectionals and will compete again Saturday night, scored 35.787 all-around. Eighth-grader Alyssa Walton was the other all-arounder, scoring 33.637, with an uncharacteristic fall on her vault.
Kendra Hambleton, Corryn Stelflug, Courtney Bursch and Kassie Hall were the other contestants with Katie Hartnecht as an alternate.
On the beam, Perrault scored 9.175 in her best event, with Hoover at 9.100 after losing .5 with the fall. Bursch, Walton and Stellflug had some nice moves but each had a fall.
“On beam, we just … fell,” said Bartlett. “Leah stuck, but Sabrina had an uncharacteristic fall and we might make some changes for individuals tomorrow. Otherwise it was just nerves. It’s a long day, and beam is always nerve-wracking, especially if it’s your first time here.”
Four of the eight Royals were first-timers at state: Hall, Walton, Hambleton and Hartnecht.
All eyes will be on Hoover at individuals tonight as the dark-eyed senior tries for her third straight all-around title. She won in Class A in 10th grade and Class AA last year and has the best average this year, but not by much.
“She is already feeling the pressure,” said Hoover, “but if she stays calm and does what she knows how to do, she can be back on top.”
But it’s a wide-open race — with 10 girls within less than a point of each other in average scores.
Perrault’s best chance to medal is balance beam and she could make top 10 in bars if she’s on.
Also competing will be Elk River senior Alex Felt, a first-time state qualifier, in all-around and floor ex.
Class AA state meet
1. Northfield 150.400
2. Roseville Area 150.100
3. Park-Cottage Grovew 149.825
4. Cambridge-Isanti 148.225
5. Eden Prairie 146.850
6. St. Cloud Tech 141.850
7. Rogers 140.275
8. Wayzata 140.225
Sabrina Hoover 37.875
Leah Perrault 35.787
Alyssa Walton 33.637
Courtney Bursch 8.70
Kendra Hambleton 7.95
Kassie Hall 7.075
Corryn Stelflug 7.625