January 28, 2010 at 9:27 a.m.
In a prelude to their North Suburban showdown against St. Francis, the Chisago Lakes Wildcats were beaten soundly by the stacked co-op of Northern schools, Rush City, Pine City and Hinckley Finlayson.
Going into the meet, CL knew it was going to be tough going against the trio of schools, as they have consistently put up scores in the high 130's this year, while the Wildcats have been topping out in the mid-130's. Through two events, though, Chisago Lakes actually enjoyed a lead over the Tigers.
Things didn't start out so hot with a 32.400 on the uneven bars. Lindsay Carlson was the top scorer with an 8.6, but other than that, only Savanna Stendahl's 8.100 broke the eight-point mark.
The lead was provided when junior Carlson set a school record on the vault with a 9.425. The previous record was a 9.400 by Amanda Zacher. Stendahl was nearly the second girl this year for the Wildcats to break the nine-point mark on the vault when she scored an 8.925. Overall, the Wildcats scored a 35.550 on vault, which was their highest team vault score in over six years.
While they were breaking that record, RCPCHF had similar struggles on the bars and only scored a 32.00. Coupled wither their 35.125 on the vault, and the Tigers trailed the Wildcats by .825 points after the midway point of the meet.
RCPCHF retook the lead when they put up 34.650 on the balance beam. While they were doing that, the Wildcats stumbled their way through their normally solid floor exercises. Their 33.30 was not up to their normal standards, and it was only that high because Carlson and Stendahl combined for over 17 of those points.
The Tigers only held a slight lead, though, after that event. They were up by .475 points, but the 'Cats were heading into the toughest event of the meet - the balance beam - while the Tigers were headed to the vault.
Again, the shining star for the Wildcats was Carlson, who scored a 9.175 on the beam, but the other girls had a tough go of things. Sam Thomsen recorded the second-highest score for the 'Cats, earning an 8.425, which was a personal best for her. No other girls cracked eight in the event. The Tigers, however, had their best score in the floor event. Three girls scored above nine, and the Wildcats couldn't do anything to combat that success.
In the end, the Wildcats went down, losing 138.525-134.575. "It was a very nice meet overall," Head Coach Brett Kjos said. "We had a few falls on bars, beam and floor. It's exciting that we are scoring well and still have not put it all together. With a little more hard work and more routines in practice, we are really close to putting up some really big scores.
St. Francis 138.200, Chisago Lakes 137.975
With the conference championship hanging in the balance, the Wildcats were just barely beat out by the Saints of St. Francis. "We lost by .225 points, which is basically two steps," Kjos explained. "An extra step here on a dismount and an extra step there on a floor routine. Two tenths!"
The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead when they scored 35.350 points on the vault. Carlson led the way with a 9.100, and Stendahl stepped up her game, earning a 9.0. Madeline Carlson wasn't far behind that lead tandem, scoring an 8.850.
The girls extended their lead by just a bit in the uneven bars. Carlson stood out with a 9.200, and Stendahl came in with an 8,750. Courtney Schlegel was the third best girl on the bars, scoring an 8.350.
While the Wildcats participated on beam and only score 33.175, the Saints finally took the lead from them with a 34.750 performance on the floor. Although they got consistent scores on the beam, the Wildcats didn't have anyone stand out above everyone else, and that's what cost them in the long run. Carlson was the top scorer, earning an 8.750. Thomsen tied her personal record with an 8.425 and both Madeline Carlson and Stendahl combined for 16 points.
Going into the last event, the 'Cats were down .650 points with their floor exercises coming up. The two Carlson's and Stendahl did all they could to vanquish the Saints' small lead, but it just wasn't enough. Stendahl scored a 9.00 as the top scorer for the 'Cats while Carlson was just behind her with an 8.950. Madeline Carlson also recorded a nice score, earning an 8.750. They were only able to knocked of .425 points off the lead though, and the Saints moved to 5-0 in the North Suburban Conference while the 'Cats fell to 4-1.
"What a meet!" Kjos said. "This was two very evenly matched teams. The girls worked so hard for every tenth of a point because they knew they needed it. Basically, it came down to the beam. We outscored St. Francis on every event except the beam. They had five girls stick their routines and we had a couple of falls. We were so close."
The tough loss left the Wildcats wondering what could have been, but Kjos doesn't want the girls to dwell on it. "We'll see them again at the conference meet and at sections," he said. "We'll see what happens then."