WILLMAR — Prior to Willmar’s home meet on Tuesday against New-London Spicer, Cardinals co-coach Jodi Mottinger made a small wager with her gymnasts.

Mottinger bet that if the team could reach a score of 140 or more, all of the coaches would take a leap into the high school pool.

After posting a season-high mark against the rival Wildcats, the Willmar coaching staff will need to search for its swimming gear.

The Cardinals put up a score of 140.25, besting NLS’ number of 137.375 from Willmar High School.

“My co-head coach made a bet that included everybody,” Cards’ co-head coach Doug Rossum said. “We’re all being roped into it, which is fine with me. I would’ve agreed to it anyway.”

Mottinger added, “I think they did awesome. They just keep getting better and better each meet. That’s our goal; kind of a slow, steady climb and they’re rising to the occasion. ... One-forty is huge for where we started out the year. We’re really excited.”

Willmar swept all four the events during the evening. The two teams put up their best collective effort on the floor exercise. NLS earned a score of 35.425. The hosts were just slightly better with a mark of 35.425.

Individually, Willmar gymnasts also finished on top in the four events. Junior Abby Coquyt was victorious in the uneven parallel bars (8.825), fellow junior Tayva Carruthers took first in the balance beam (9.15) and Kirah Kessler-Gross captured the highest marks on the vault (9.15) and the floor exercise (9.375).

Willmar senior Kirah Kessler-Gross leaps during her routine on the balance beam during Tuesday's meet against New London-Spicer from Willmar High School. Patrick Bernadeau / West Central Tribune
Willmar senior Kirah Kessler-Gross leaps during her routine on the balance beam during Tuesday's meet against New London-Spicer from Willmar High School. Patrick Bernadeau / West Central Tribune

Going on to the win in the all-around with a score of 35.4, Kessler-Gross was most surprised by the number she posted on the floor following a stumble during one of her passes. Nonetheless, the surprise was pleasant.

“On my floor, I stepped out of bounds and it just didn’t go the way I thought it was going to. But, it worked out in the end and I guess the judges liked it,” the senior remarked with a laugh.

Highlighted by a third-place finish on the uneven bars, sophomore Kamryn Quenemoen took home second in the all-around, followed by Willmar senior Presleigh Schrupp and NLS junior Ashlyn Olson. Schrupp was second on the bars. Olson took second on the beam and floor.

Last season during the Section 6A meet, Willmar snagged a spot at state while the Wildcats were on the outside looking in. With a number of injuries during the course of the season, NLS, like the Cardinals, is looking to see its scores climb later in the season.

“This is definitely getting us prepared,” Wildcats head coach Cindy Jacobson said. “I just kind of told the girls that win or lose, it doesn’t matter. Let’s just try some new tricks and when it really counts will be in February. What counts is where we place then.”

Willmar 140.25,

NLS 137.375

ALL-AROUND — (1) Kirah Kessler-Gross, W, 35.4 (2) Kamryn Quenemoen, NLS, 35.175 (3) Presleigh Schrupp, W, 35.15
VAULT — (1) Kessler-Gross, W, 9.15 (2) Jessica Miller, W, 8.925 (3) Lili Sampson, NLS, 8.85
BARS — (1) Abigail Coquyt, W, 8.825 (2) Schrupp, W, 8.8 (3) Quenemoen, NLS, 8.75
BEAM — (1) Tayva Carruthers, W, 9.15 (2) Ashlyn Olson, NLS, 9.1 (3) Kessler-Gross, W, 8.85
FLOOR — (1) Kessler-Gross, W, 9.375 (2) Olson, NLS, 9.175 (3) Schrupp, W, 9.1