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home : sports : sports
February 17, 2020

1/23/2020 3:38:00 PM
Chisago County gymnastics showdown goes Wildcats' way

North Branch dominated Chisago Lakes in gymnastics contests over the last half decade, but starting last year, the Wildcats turned the tide, and continued this on Thursday, January 16 with a CL win in the rivalry.

Chisago Lakes started off behind in this one, but that was a result of the opening events. North Branch started on vault, which is by far their strongest event, while Chisago Lakes started on the uneven bars, which they have struggled with at times, and this meet was no different.

The ‘Cats scored only 31.575 on the uneven bars, led by Elsa Leopold and Claudia Stipe, who both scored 8.475. Karley Aki had a personal best 7.175 in the event.

For host team North Branch;  in the vault they got a monster score from Paige Bauer, who stuck her performance for a 9.5. Strong moves from Bekah Fish, Dakota Esget, Libby Nielson and Ceriann Istvanovich, who all scored over 8.15, led to a 34.5 team score for NB, giving them the early lead.

The Wildcats instantly answered back. They scored even higher on the vault than NB, and the Vikings had troubles of their own on the uneven bars.
Chisago Lakes got a 9.3 from Stipe on vault, a 9 from Leopold, an 8.45 from Violet Doolittle and an 8.275 from Aki.

Meanwhile, NB got only two scores over seven on the bars. Esget scored an 8.6 and Fish an 8.45.

After the two events, Chisago Lakes held a slim lead of 66.60-65.450.

That lead grew by quite a bit the third event. The balance beam is a Jekyll and Hyde event for the Wildcats, as they’ve had some great scores on it, but also plenty of issues with falls. In this meet, Dr. Jekyll showed his face for CL. Both Stipe and Leopold had scores over 9.125. Aki scored a 7.7 and Ann Nelson, returning from injury, had a 7.8.

Head Coach Brett Kjos said he’s hoping Nelson can add floor to her routine this week as she comes back slowly from her ankle ailment.

At the same time, North Branch did decently on the beam, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with CL’s great score.

Fish led the Vikings with an 8.0 while Esget, Nielson and Julia Munchow all registered matching 7.5’s for a team score of 30.50.

“We had a terrible balance beam day,” North Branch Head Coach Katie Krampitz said. “We had some falls and missed connections, so we are back at practice with more focus on our beam hits.”

Krampitz noted that there were some issues with the floor just prior to the meet that needed attention, and she didn’t have the ability to really coach the girls after the beam issues.

“We just didn’t fully recover from the falls and move on before the floor exercise,” she said. “It would’ve put us in a much better position to have a chance to win the meet.”

The teams scored nearly the exact same on the floor exercise, with the ‘Cats holding a slight edge at 33.675-33.625.

Leopold paced CL with an 8.9, Stipe had an 8.750, Aki an 8.350 and McKenna Keene tallied a 7.675.

For the Vikings, Esget had a meet-high 8.925 in the event while Fish scored an 8.65 and Bauer ab 8.375. Nielson rounded out the varsity score with a 7.675.

Leopold and Stipe both had high all arounds, with Leopold scoring 35.675 and Stipe a 35.650. “To have two gymnasts nearly score the coveted 36 in the all around is outstanding,” Kjos said. “Adding a few higher level skills into their routines should help get to that spot. Overall, it was a nice win against our rival and a Mississippi 8 opponent.”

The coach for North Branch said, “On the positive side, we had eight improved personal bests for the season, including Paige Bauer’s 9.5,” Krampitz said. “We just have to continue to build our skills and stay sharp in all of our events.”



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