February 24, 2011 at 12:30 p.m.
Going into sectionals, Chisago Lakes knew there wasn't a good chance of going to state.
With Forest Lake, Elk River, Cambridge-Isanti and St. Francis in their section, the Wildcats are stuck with some of the best gymnastics squads in the state as they are the smallest Class AA school.
But, that didn't mean the girls didn't still make some progress in their gymnastics careers.
"The girls did a truly outstanding job," Head Coach Brett Kjos said. The girls did the job knowing one of their leaders and best gymnasts in Savanna Stendahl went down in warm ups with a sever injury. "We had to make a lineup change just before we competed and the girls took it in stride. They did not seem rattled at all, and they pulled together to give their best performance of the season. What an awesome group to coach."
Betsy Howerton replaced Stendahl on vault, the Wildcats first event of the evening, and she had a personal best on the vault of 8.325. Then, both Sam Thomsen and Alicia Sokol had some of their top vault scores ever, and Chisago Lakes got 33.575 points in the event.
On the bars, the Wildcats "rocked" according to Kjos. They set four personal records on the bars. Among the record breakers were Reba Berg, Nicole Bean, Howerton and Thomsen "Setting four records at the section meet really shows how hard the girls worked this season on improving their routines," Kjos said. "What a job." Kjos also added that Thomsen's routine was one of the best he's ever seen her do, practice or meet time.
The girls scored a 33.275 on the bars to tally their points up to 66.850.
In the third event, the 'Cats went to the balance beam. It's an event the girls have struggled with all year, and this time, it was no different. Both Alicia Sokol and Bean tied their personal records, but other than those two, no one scored over eight points.
"Not our best performances of the season. I was hoping for a bigger score seeing the way we practiced during the week," Kjos mentioned. "But it is the beam -- the make or break event in gymnastics."
The girls scored a 31.825 on the beam, leaving their running total at 98.675, well behind Cambridge-Isanti's pace of 112.075.
On the floor, the 'Cats had two more personal records, one from Howerton and one from Thomsen.
The girls scored 33.750 behind an 8.750 from Thomsen, an 8.375 from Sokol, and 8.350 from Bean and an 8.275 from Howerton.
"Alicia and Nicole had new skills in their routines," Kjos said. "It was fun to see all of their hard work paying off."
Thomsen scored a 33.950 in the all around, and Bean had a 33.575. Howerton tallied 31.200 points and Berg had 30.200.
The girls ended with a score of 132.425, not far off from their season best, and that was missing Stendahl, who has been one of their top all-around performers all year.
The Bluejackets of Cambridge-Isanti won the section, like they have for years, with a 148.225.
"It was amazing to see the girls step up and perform like they did when Savanna went down," Kjos said. "There were so many personal bests in the biggest meet of the year."
Although the end of the season is always disappointing, it wasn't entirely unexpected. However, this is the last year that Chisago Lakes has to deal with the likes of C-I and Forest Lake and Elk River. Due to slightly declining enrollment, the Wildcats will be moving down to Class A next year while not graduating many gymnasts.
"To go from the smallest school in AA to one of the biggest schools in A will hopefully result in a few of the girls qualifying for the state meet," Kjos said excitedly.
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