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Prep gymnastics: Cardinals third in CLC

Tribune photo by Rand Middleton Willmar sophomore Stephanie Thompson stabs the vault table for her second try, eyed by the Cardinals’ coach Larry Selchow, left, on Saturday in Willmar. The scores are for Thompson’s first vault.

WILLMAR — St. Cloud Tech won another Central Lakes Conference title, but here come the Willmar Cardinals.

Led by four-time all-around champions Mariah Miller, the Tigers claimed their ninth straight CLC championship Saturday.

Tech surpasses Willmar by one for most conference titles won with 12 dating to the league’s start in 1977-78.

The Cardinals made a big jump in the standing after placing eighth in 2011 and seventh in 2012.

On their home floor at Kennedy Elementary on Saturday afternoon, Willmar catapulted to third place with a score of 140.975.

Tech, ranked No. 3 in Class AA, posted a 149.425 leaving the other seven schools in its chalk dust. Alexandria came in second at 143.725.

In a remarkable individual feat, Mariah Miller repeated as the CLC all-around champ a fourth year in a row. The Tech senior also won three individual events.

Willmar had only one all-conference performer last year — Cassandra Johnson fifth on vault — but this season placed five in the top eight.

Hailey Mottinger, a freshman, tied for third on vault and finished third on floor.

Johnson, the only senior, took sixth on vault and Alexis Miley eighth on floor. Stephanie Thompson finished seventh on beam and placed ninth all-around (honorable mention).

Willmar’s best event was floor where it scored 37.125, second only to Tech’s 37.45.

“We soared on floor,” said Willmar coach Larry Selchow. “It was our best.”

He had special praise for 10th-grader Madison Lindblad’s floor routine.

“She stuck her full-twist back somme layout, which is high-difficulty, without a deduction. It was gorgeous.”

Mottinger scored 9.475 on floor, Miley 9.3, Thompson 9.2, Johnson 9.1 and Lindblad 8.8.

Tech and Alexandria each placed three in the top six all-around. Alex freshman Tahlia Bowden (fourth all-around) won beam denying Miller a sweep.

St. Cloud Tech head coach Joel Stark-Haws rated the Tigers’ showing “Very high today; we hit 15 of 20 routines compared to 10 of 20 which is more normal for us. Mariah’s floor routine was her best this year. We had a great start on beam which helped our confidence.”

Tech will host the 8AA section meet on Saturday and Willmar will stage the Section 6A meet at Kennedy. Alexandria will be in that field along with Tribune area teams, including New London-Spicer.

But the showstopper, in the manner of St. Cloud Tech, will be Melrose. The Dutchmen are the Class A defending champions and regularly have scored in the high 140s to rank first in Class A.

There was a surprise at meet’s end. Willmar assistant coach Doug Rossum announced that Selchow is planning his coaching retirement after 18 seasons as head coach.

Also unexpectedly, after eight crisp rotations that took just 2:45 minutes, it took 1:30 to churn out meet results and all-conference, apparently due to computer and printer malfunctions.

Team scores

(1) St. Cloud Tech 149.425 (2) Alexandria 143.735 (3) Willmar 140.975 (4) Sauk Rapids 139.6 (5) Brainerd 136.675 (6) St. Cloud Apollo 135.975 (7) Sartell 135.875 (8) Fergus Falls 124.225

Individual results

(key: champion … Willmar results)

ALL-AROUND (TOP 10)  — (1) Mariah Miller, SCT, 37.95 (2) Hannah Wendel, Alx, 36.975 (3) Paige Beuning, SCT, 36.95 (4) Tahilia Bowden, Alx, 36.75 (5) Briquelle Bowden, Alx, 36.725 (6) Taylor Pick, SCT, 36.425 (7) Sydney Schindler, SR, 36.2 (8) Katlyn Mohs, SCT, 36.15 (9) Stephanie Thompson, Wil, 35.725 (10) Betty Grell, SCA, 35.575 … (12) Haley Mottinger 35.325 (14) Cassandra Johnson 35.05

VAULT — (1) Miller 9.575 … (3) tie, Mottinger 9.425; Pick 9.425 … (6) Johnson 9.35 (13) tie, Madison Lindblad 9.150; Thompson 9.15 (24) Hillary Weiler 8.85

BARS — (1) Miller 9.4 … (18) Thompson 8.3 (22) Johnson 8.175 (25) Miley 8.15 (27) Mottinger 8.05 (31) Samantha Goeser 7.9

BEAM — (1) Tahlia Bowden, Alx, 9.5 … (7) Thompson 9.075 (14) Johnson 8.4 (15) Mottinger 8.375 (17) Lindblad 8.25 (20) Miley 8.1

FLOOR — (1) Miller 9.6 … (3) Mottinger 9.475 (8) Miley 9.325 (13) Thompson 9.2 (14) Johnson 9.125 (20) Lindblad 8.8

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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