by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
The Rogers and Elk River gymnasts overcame the weirdness of competing against each other as both teams performed as well as they could have hoped at Section 8AA on Saturday.
Rogers was team runner-up and the Elks, with just four competitors, placed fifth among eight, and combined they had three state individual qualifiers in Rogers senior Leah Perreault for the third time, and two first-timers, Elk senior Alana Embury and Rogers freshman Alyssa Walton.
Rogers scored 139.775, with St. Cloud Tech the runaway winner at 147.45, and the Elks scored 135.475, at St. Cloud Apollo.
“Rogers scored really amazing, for being separate, today, and Elk River did well, for only having four people,” said Embury, co-captain with Perreault of the team that goes by Elk River-Rogers-Zimmerman until they break up for sectionals.
“We were proud to get second. That was a big accomplishment for us,” said Perreault. Her team won Section 5AA the last two years but had big graduation losses.
A junior-varsity level roster competed for Zimmerman in another section, 7A, at Chisago Lakes.
The Elks and Royals had “some awesome routines today,” said Jenn Bartlett, coach of both teams.
“A couple girls felt bad about a couple of little errors but overall we had one of our best meets of the year. All the girls stepped up. It was very hard, when we been work so hard together as one team all year, go have to split up here, and not be able to sit together at the meet. But these girls, you can’t break them.”
Said Walton: “It felt weird, because we used to being one team together.”
Yet both teams scored at the high end of their potential.
“Everyone tried their hardest and a lot of people got personal bests,” said Walton.
Perreault placed third all-around with 36.85 points behind two Tech girls. She was second on uneven bars with 9.10, and third on floor exercise with 9.40, advancing to state in all three (top four qualify). She also placed sixth in vault with 9.3 and sixth on beam with 9.05.
Last year she was all-around runner-up in another section, 5AA, behind her state champion teammate Sabrina Hoover, now graduated. She has twice previously qualified for state in beam, and placed eighth last year, but that’s where she made her only mistake Saturday, a slip on a simple jump for a .5 penalty that cost her the all-around title.
“Leah consistently hits that jump, and if she had nailed it, she would have been all-around champion,” said Barlettt, “but we can’t complain about that, because she had an awesome meet.”
Perreault called it “a good day” and was elated to qualify in two events and all-around.
“I made my vault (a yurchenko tuck). I had been getting it all week in practice,” she said. “On bars, I made everything, and connected it.”
Embury qualified for state with fourth place on floor exercise, matching Perreault’s 9.40 score, and placing one notch behind her (superior judge tiebreaker). Embury also placed sixth all-around with 35.80 and 10th on balance beam with 8.975.
“My floor was definitely the best I have ever done, and I’m very excited to be going to state,” said Embury.
“The big thing I aded this year was front handspring-front layout-front layout. And my strug, the split at the beginning. Those helped my score a lot ….Actually I had a little trouble in warmups, so I’m glad I got over that.”
Walton placed third on balance beam with 9.275, where her highlight is a back handspring, full twist dismount. She placed ninth all-around with 35.525, sixth on floor with 9.325, and 10th on bars with 8.525.
Jessica Sadlowski, Elk junior, had a career highlight, placing 10th on floor exercise with 9.075. The top ten get introduced in the post-game awards, a first for Sadlowski.
“I’ve never gotten a nine in anything before, so that was awesome,” said Sadlowski, who scored well with fly spring front tuck combo that she added this year.
All-around champion and runner-up were Tech’s Paige Buening with 37.375 and Moriah Miller with 36.95. Event champions were Buening in vault (9.475) and beam (9.60), and Miller on bars (9.15) and floor (9.60).
Other Elk and Royal highlights, Bartlett said, were Katie Fleck of Rogers hitting her tuck tsukahara vault for 9.025 (11th place), the floor performances by both teams, the way everyone “swung the bars” with authority, and generally solid beam routines with minimal falls.
Also competing for Rogers were Katie Hartneck, Corryn Stelflug, Coutney Bursch, Kendra Hambleton, Sydney Fay and Ashley Stewart. The other Elks were Lindsey Koosman and Krista Kovar, who toughed it out with painfully bruised ribs from a fall on bars, her second event.
The three state qualifiers will compete next Saturday, 6 p.m., at the Sports Pavilion at the University of Minnesota.
1. St. Cloud Tech 147.45
2. Rogers 139.775
3. Brainerd 138.575
4. St. Cloud Apollo 138.250
5. Elk River 135.465
6. Moorhead 135.275
7. Buffalo 131.925
8. St. Michael-Albertville 118.925
All-around – (3) Leah Perrault 36.85 (9) Alyssa Walton 35.525 (13) Katie Fleck 34.325
Vault – (6) Perrault 9.3 (11) Fleck 9.025 (19) Kendra Hambleton 8.65 (21) Courtney Bursch 8.6 (26) Walton 8.4
Bars – (2) Perrault 9.1 (10) Walton 8.45 (12) Fleck 8.375 (26) Corryn Stelflug 7.425 (27) Bursch 7.35
Beam – (3) Walton 9.275 (6) Perrault 9.05 (27) Fleck 8.025 (31) Stelflug 7.825 (32) Bursch 7.8
Floor – (3) Perrault 9.4 (6) Walton 9.325 (13) Stelflug 8.975 (15) Fleck 8.9 (18) Hambleton 8.775
Elk River scores
All-around – (6) Alana Embury 35.8 (16) Jess Sadlowsky 33.75 (17) Krista Kovar 33.425 (18) Lindsey Koosman 32.5
Vault – (14) Embury 8.975 (16) Sadlowsky 8.75 (27) Kovar 8.375 (29) Koosman 8.3
Bars – (11) Embury 8.45 (17) Kovar 8.0 (22) Koosman 7.625 (24) Sadlowsky 7.575
Beam – (10) Embury 8.975 (18) Koosman 8.55 (21) Kovar 8.4 (23) Sadlowsky 8.35
Floor – (4) Embury 9.4 (10) Sadlowsky 9.075 (21) Kovar 8.65 (34) Koosman 8.025