December 23, 2010 at 10:23 a.m.
After a razor thin victory over North Branch to open up their North Suburban Conference schedule, the Chisago Lakes gymnastics team had an even closer call when they took on the Irondale Knights last week.
The Wildcats opened the meet on vault, and behind an 8.425 by Nicole Bean, they scored a 31.975 on the event. Savanna Stendahl scored an 8.100 and Reba Berg and Alicia Sokol both contributed scores for the 'Cats. Meanwhile, the Irondale/Spring Lake Park co-op scored a 29.300 on the uneven bars, and the Wildcats already looked to be in good position in the meet.
In the second event, it was the 'Cats turn on the uneven bars. Although they didn't have any standout scores over eight, Stendahl, Bean, Sam Thomsen and Courtney Schlegel all scored 7.400 and higher, and that led them to a 30.325, leaving their lead at 2.250 points halfway through the meet.
On the balance beam, the Wildcats took a tumble, just like they did against North Branch the week before.
Not only did they have trouble executing, their top all-around gymnast, Stendahl, had to leave the meet after the uneven bars. She had been ill all week, and although she gave it all she could, the junior just couldn't finish the meet. Sokol, Betsy Howerton, Thomsen and Bean combined to score a 28.825 on the balance beam, but Irondale made their swift move on the floor exercise. All four of their gymnasts scored a 7.825 and above, including an 8.725 by Linsday Sacco, and all of a sudden, Chisago Lakes wasn't in the drivers seat anymore. The Wildcats lost their lead and more, going from up two points to down by almost two points in one fell swoop.
The silver lining was that the balance beam was out of the way, and only the floor exercise remained, which has been the 'Cats strong event the past two years.
Sokol, Bean and Thomsen really stepped up in the event with Stendahl down and out. Thomsen led the way with an 8.700, Bean was right behind her with an 8.500 and Sokol wasn't far behind those two with an 8.400. Berg rounded out the varsity floor exercise with a 7.650, and as it turned out, the 'Cats needed every decimal point they could get from each girl. "After falling behind on beam, the girls rallied together and gave the best floor routines I have seen all year," Head Coach Brett Kjos said. "Sam, Nicole and Reba all set personal records on the floor. We really needed that!"
After all the tallies were made, Chisago Lakes came out on top by a score of 124.275-124.300.
"It was another come-from-behind win for us," Kjos said after the meet. "It was so close, it was unbelievable. After losing out top all-arounder halfway through the meet really showed the character of this team. We needed the other girls to step up and perform and they did."
The win kept the 'Cats' mark in the North Suburban Conference unblemished at 2-0. They are tied with St. Francis again, the team that beat them out for the conference championship last year. "We need to work on our consistency on the beam," Kjos said. "Hopefully with hard work over the holiday break, we can improve beam scores by a couple of points."