February 19, 2015 at 3:06 p.m.
And for the second straight year, the girls are just starting to hit their best stride as the state tourney is around the corner.
The girls dominated the Section 4A meet on Saturday, February 14, leaving no questions as to who the best team in the gym was.
The Lady Vikes scored 144.825, only two points off the their state tournament pace last year that netted them a fifth place finish in Class A.
Rush City finished in second place with a 137.625. St. Paul Highland Park came in third with 137.225 and Chisago County rival Chisago Lakes finished fourth with a season-best 133.325.
North Branch got great performances all around, but none were better than senior Katy Trunk. Although she’s had a bum ankle recently, Trunk battle through to win the all around by almost two points.
The Gustavus-bound gymnast scored a 37.175 after finishing tops in the uneven bars, and second in the balance beam, floor exercise and vault. Baily Murawski was the next closest competitor, scoring 35.8 in the all around.
The Vikings also got some great performances out of Keeley Ertl, Mikayla Johnson and Alexys Olson. Ertl finished third in the all around, just a tiebreaker away from second, scoring 35.8.
On the uneven bars, Trunk’s 8.975 was tops in the 10-team meet. Olson was right behind her with an 8.8 in the event, finishing second.
On the balance beam, Trunk scored a 9.225, which was just shy of Murawski’s winning 9.25 score. Olson registered a 9.1 and Johnson had a 9.05.
Getting three girls above a nine on the balance beam is a huge accomplishment, and something the Lady Vikes can hang their hat on heading into the state tournament.
On the floor exercise, Trunk came in second with a 9.425, again just missing out on a win as Madisyn Jammick of St. Paul Highland Park scored a 9.45. Ertl came in third with a 9.35, showing her talents throughout the meet.
In the vault, which has always been a North Branch strength, the girls really added up the points and fractions. Johnson won the event with a 9.6 while Trunk came in second with a 9.55. Ertl was right there with them, finishing fourth with a 9.375.
The Vikings will perform at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion on both Friday and Saturday. On Friday, the team championships are held, beginning at 11 a.m. The Vikes will be on the floor first, followed by vault, uneven bars and finishing up with the balance beam.
On Saturday, the girls who qualified individually will take to the mats in pursuit of solo state championships.
The individual meet will also be at 11 a.m. at the Sports Pavilion at the U of M.
The Wildcats had a great meet too, despite not sending anyone to the state tournament. They shattered their season-high score with a 133.325. Their previous best on the year was a 130.75.
They achieved their score with a great meet from senior captain Betsy Howerton in her last hurrah, freshman Emily Aiple and sophomore Izzy Hindt.
Howerton had a personal best on the floor of 9.1, and that propelled her to an all around of 34.775, just missing out on the state tournament.
Aiple scored a personal best in the all around, registering a 33.825. Her best even was an 8.6 on the floor exercise.
Hindt’s all around was 32.925, and she also nailed her floor routine, scoring a personal best 8.95.
Savannah Gorski (8.075 on vault), Violet Doolittle(8.4 on vault), Payton Nelson (7.5 on bars, 7.2 on beam), Natalie Silver (8.4 on floor, 7.5 on beam), and Maddie Audette (7.975 on floor) were the specialists who helped the ‘Cats to their top score. “Those girls did a phenomenal job,” Head Coach Kristin Johnson said. “I am so proud of them!”