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Gymnastics: Willmar finishes in 6th place at state

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Willmar's Bronwyn Tollefson competes in the beam on Friday during the Class A state meet. Curt Hogg / Tribune2 / 6
Willmar's Kirah Kessler-Gross hangs in the air while competing on the balance beam on Friday during the Class A state meet. Curt Hogg / Tribune3 / 6
Willmar's Abby Coquyt flips off the vault during Friday's Class A state meet in Minneapolis. Curt Hogg / Tribune4 / 6
Willmar's Jolissa Lara prepares to land after springing off the vault during Friday's Class A state meet in Minneapolis. Curt Hogg / Tribune5 / 6
Willmar's Kirah Kessler-Gross flips off the balance beam in Friday's Class A state meet in Minneapolis. Curt Hogg / Tribune6 / 6

MINNEAPOLIS—The Willmar gymnastics team capped off its season with a sixth-place finish at the Class A state tournament at the Maturi Pavilion on Friday afternoon.

Detroit Lakes won its fourth consecutive state title with a score of 150.925, more than three points clear of second-place Watertown-Mayer/Mound Westonka.

The Cardinals, making their first appearance at the state tournament since 1997, posted a score of 144.0 and were in position for a fourth-place finish entering their final rotation on the uneven bars.

"We're just really proud of the way the girls competed today all around," Willmar head coach Jodi Mottinger said. "I'm not disappointed in them in any way. They reached their goal of making it to state and they did so well."

The best event on the afternoon for the Cardinals was the vault, where Jolissa Lara and Kirah Kessler-Gross capped off the team's runs with scores of 9.4 and 9.325. Willmar entered the vault after two rotations in fifth place before posting the third-best score of any team in the event with a 36.9.

"I thought we vaulted really well as a team," Mottinger said. "We were in a really good spot thanks to that performance."

Willmar opened up with a 35.800 on the beam with no falls, led by Olivia Welsh's 9.325 effort that was sixth-best among all 40 performers on the day.

"That's such a tough event to open up on with the nerves of a state tournament and to come out and hit five-for-five with no falls was a great effort," Mottinger said.

The second rotation brought the Cardinals to the floor exercise, where they recorded their second-best score out of the four events with a 36.400. Kessler-Gross and Abby Coquyt both scored a 9.15 with Welsh just behind at 9.125.

A slight slip-up in the final event resulted in a 34.900 on the bars, allowing Mahtomedi and Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa to jump ahead in the final results.

"I think there might be a little disappointment for the girls right now because they really wanted to finish in the top three and podium," Mottinger said. "But they'll realize that they have so much more to be proud. That won't linger."

The Cardinals entered the state meet having posted a 146.55 at the Section 6A meet one week prior—the second-highest qualifying score of all eight Class A teams. Watertown-Mayer/Mound Westonka took second place and Mahtomedi finished in third place, besting Sartell-St. Stephen via tiebreaker to round out the podium teams.

Mottinger was named the Class A Head Coach of the Year during the state banquet on Thursday evening, an award she said she was far from expecting.

"Winning that, it's really a team award and a whole coaching staff award," Mottinger said. "It was all a team effort and our staff is awesome. Without the girls that can get us down (to state), you're not winning that."

The weekend is not over quite yet for the Cardinals, as Coquyt, Kessler-Gross, Jolissa Lara and Lydia Morrell will each compete in Saturday's individual state competition beginning at 11 a.m.

Class A state meet

TEAM SCORING — (1) Detroit Lakes 150.925 (2) Watertown-Mayer/Mound Westonka 147.425 (3) Mahtomedi 146.450 (4) Sartell-St. Stephen 146.450 (5) Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa 144.875 (6) Willmar 144.000 (7) Waconia 142.425 (8) Worthington 141.075


VAULT — Jolissa Lara 9.400, Kirah Kessler-Gross 9.325, Abigail Coquyt 9.150, Lydia Morrell 9.025, Presleigh Schrupp 8.950

BARS — Lara 8.825, Schrupp 8.800, Coquyt 8.675, Morrell 8.600, Tayva Carruthers 8.300

BEAM — Olivia Welsh 9.325, Kessler-Gross 9.050, Bronwyn Tollefson 8.725, Coquyt 8.700, Carruthers 8.700

FLOOR — Coquyt 9.150, Kessler-Gross 9.150, Welsh 9.125, Lara 8.975, Morrell 8.975