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Gymnastics: Willmar Wings take 1st home win in 7 years

Tribune photo by Rand Middleton Releasing from the high bar, Rachel Vraa of Wings I eyes the landing before rotating to stick her dismount under the gaze of spotter and team coach Rob Esse on Sunday in Willmar.

WILLMAR — The Willmar Wings won it all in the 13th annual Kids in America Gymnastics Invitational on Sunday.

Wings I scored 132.7 to edge Junior Tigers I of St. Cloud at 132.150 by .550 of a point. Wings II also placed first scoring 120.7 to top the Mankato Storm at 119.3.

Ten teams participated, six in the senior division at the Kennedy School gymnasium before a large crowd.

Wings coach Rob Esse said the Wings I victory came as a surprise.

“The River City Dynamos of Winona are ranked first in the Midwest Amateur Gymnastics Association, St. Cloud second and Willmar fourth,” said Esse. “We were figuring third or fourth. When the order of finish was announced and we didn’t get fourth or third, the girls figured, well, great, we’re second and then to find out we were first they were totally excited.”

Willmar last won in 2006, the second of back-to-back victories. The host team also won in 2001, the invite’s first year.

Team members are in both the Willmar and New London-Spicer school districts.

The Faribault Flairs finished fourth after winning the past two championships here.

Wings I scored best on vault (35.7) and floor (34.4). Esse said the team faltered on beam, though the judge’s score (31.55) still ranked as the meet’s second best.

The MAGA follows the high school league rule book. A team may have up to 10 entries per event with the top four scores counted.

The state tournament is scheduled for March 17 on the University of Wisconsin-Stout campus in Menomonie.

Kids in America Invitational 2013

Gold Division team scoring

(1) Willmar Wings I 132.700 (2) St. Cloud Junior Tigers I 132.150 (3) Mankato Avalanche 131.6 (4) River City Dynamos I, Winona 130.8 (5) Flairs Faribault 124.5 (6) St. Cloud Junior Tigers II 122.7

Silver Division team scoring

(1) Willmar Wings II 120.7 (2) Mankato Storm 119.3 (3) River City Dynamos 117.25 (4) Flips Faribault 106.9

Wings I

 Erica Schramm, Jolissa Lara, Emily Novak, Rachel Vraa, Reanne Warwick, Brooke Graves, Kendall Hein, Courtney Henjum

Wings II

Lindsay Haefner, Tayva Carruthers, Kirah Kessler-Gross, Ashlyn Olson, Lydia Morrell, Becca Schmidt, Sara Thein, Olivia Welsh, Aly Lund

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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