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Carruthers, Kessler-Gross shine at CLC meet

Read how the Cardinals duo earned All-Conference honors in the all-around, Willmar takes third

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Willmar senior Kirah Kessler-Gross (left) and junior Tayva Carruthers (middle) stand on top of the podium after tying for the top score on the balance beam during the Central Lakes Conference Championships on Saturday from Willmar High School. Patrick Bernadeau / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — As part of a solid performance from the Willmar gymnastics team at the Central Lakes Conference Championships, two gymnasts highlighted the Cardinals’ effort.

Senior Kirah Kessler-Gross and junior Tayva Carruthers each collected top-10 finishes in the all-around Saturday from Willmar High School.

Kessler-Gross was fifth with a score of 36.325. With a mark of 35.725, Carruthers placed seventh. The duo each captured All-Conference honors in the all-around.

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Willmar junior Tayva Carruthers performs on the balance beam during the Central Lakes Conference Championships on Saturday from Willmar High School. Patrick Bernadeau / West Central Tribune

“This is my first year getting (All-Conference) for all-around,” Carruthers said. “We’ve worked really hard from where we’ve started to where we are today. So it means a lot for getting the all-around All-Conference. We push each other, and we finally got to this point.”

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Carruthers and Kessler-Gross also earned All-Conference honors on the beam and floor exercise. The senior picked up the same nod on the vault.

The duo had their best showing of the day on the beam, each posting a 9.45 to top the leaderboard in the event.

“So during my beam routine, I was pretty nervous, but we all try to make each other the most confident that we can get,” Carruthers said.

She added, “My dismount is what I get most nervous about because it's the last thing I do and I just do not want to mess it up. I was able to stick the beam routine and Kirah and I were able to tie for first place, so it was so much fun.”

Elsewhere for the Cardinals, senior captain Presleigh Schrupp was an All-Conference selection on the uneven bars and was an all-around honorable mention. Junior Abby Coquyt joined Schrupp on the bars and a honorable mention on the floor exercise.

Entering the meet as the defending conference champions, Willmar took third in the meet after tying its season-high score of 142.95. That finish, coupled with its three dual victories over the course of the regular season helped the team tie for third with Brainerd in the season standings.

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“It means a lot,” Cardinals co-head coach Jodi Mottinger. “This was in our home gym, first time we’ve competed here in this gym and I think this girls putting together a solid performance is huge going into sections next week. We’re looking at today as a practice for next week.”

Currently ranked second in Class AA, Sartell took first in the meet with an overall score of 148.4. St. Cloud Tech was second with a 144.3.

Posting the top mark on the uneven bars and tied for the best score from the floor, Sartell junior Marly Michard claimed the all-around with a 37.725. Earning victory in the vault, Tech freshman Taylar Schafer was second with a 37.2.

Following the CLC meet, Willmar, the eighth-ranked team in Class A, turns its attention to Saturday’s Section 6A meet from Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School. The Cardinals are seeking their third straight trip to state and fifth in program history.

“I think the kids far exceeded what they thought they could do at the beginning of the season,” Mottinger said. “We lost quite a bit to graduation and we got new kids in the lineup that hadn’t done a lot on varsity. ... We had a lot of kids that stepped into some roles and really have done an awesome job and are working hard to get to that next level at sections.”

CLC Championships

TEAM SCORES — (1) Sartell 148.4 (2) St. Cloud Tech 144.3 (3) Willmar 142.95 (4) Brainerd 141.8 (5) Alexandria 137.9 (6) Fergus Falls 132.95 (7) Sauk Rapids 132.875
ALL-AROUND — (1) Marley Michaud, S, 37.725 (2) Taylar Schaefer, SCT, 37.2 (3) Carly Yang, S, 36.875 ... Willmar: (5) Kirah Kessler-Gross 36.325 (7) Tayva Carruthers 35.725 (13) Presleigh Schrupp 34.625 (14) Jessica Miller 34.35
VAULT — (1) Schaefer, SCT, 9.6 (2) Michaud, S, 9.5 (T3) Yang, S, 9.475 (T3) Brenna Deason, B, 9.475 ... Willmar: (T7) Kessler-Gross 9.375 (T12) Schrupp, 9.15 (T19) Miller 9.025 (T24) Carruthers 8.775 (26) Abby Teisinger 8.75
BARS — (1) Michard, S, 9.8 (2) Ali Boschee, S, 9.6 (3) Yang, S, 9.45 ... Willmar: (T7) Schrupp, 8.8 (T11) Abby Coquyt, W, 8.5 (T17) Carruthers 8.25 (20) Kessler-Gross 8.1 (T21) Miller 8.05
BEAM — (T1) Kessler-Gross, W, 9.45 (T1) Carruthers, W, 9.45 (T3) Emma Schwartz, S, 9.25 (T3) Carley Weisenbeck, SR, 9.25 ... Willmar: (T11) Coquyt 8.8. (25) Miller 8.25 (28) Schrupp 7.9
FLOOR — (T1) Michaud, S, 9.475 (2) Deason, B, 9.475 (3) Izzy Olson, B, 9.425 ...Willmar: (4) Kirah Kessler-Gross 9.4 (T5) Coquyt 9.35 (8) Carruthers 9.25 (T17) Miller 9.025 (22) Schrupp 8.775

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Related Topics: GYMNASTICS
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