HOWARD LAKE — The Willmar gymnastics team is headed to state, again.
For the third consecutive year, the Cardinals punched their ticket to the Class A state meet after capturing Saturday’s Section 6A final at the MAWSECO Building School Gym.
Willmar compiled a top score of 142.45 points, followed by Benson/Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (138.9), Annandale (138.825) and New London-Spicer (136.35).
The Class A team championships kick off the state meet at 11 am. Friday from the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul.
“It’s awesome. The girls did really well today,” Willmar co-head coach Doug Rossum said. “Like we’ve said to them all year: ‘Go out and have fun and then at the end of the day, the results will be on the scoreboard.’ And that’s what we did. We went out and had a really good time.”
The Cardinals were on top of the leaderboard in all four events. Their best performance came on the vault (36.675) and they were nearly as strong on the floor exercise (36.65).
Individually, Willmar sends four athletes to St. Paul.
Capturing the section title in the balance beam with mark of 9.5, senior Kirah Kessler-Gross leads the Cardinal contingent. She took second in the all-around with a 36.35.
Elsewhere, senior co-captain Presleigh Schrupp competes in the bars and vault. Junior Tayva Carruthers makes her state debut on the beam. Fellow junior Abby Coquyt got the job done on with a second-place finish on bars and and a third on floor.
Coquyt began the year on the mend after recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered last summer. Two months after returning to competition, Coquyt makes her fourth straight state appearance. For someone like Coquyt, who is use to the big stage, does it ever get old?
“It really doesn’t. The feeling of going up there and them saying my name is amazing,” Coquyt said. “I did today for the team. ... And just to make it individually is even better because coming into this year, I didn’t think I’d be on floor and I wouldn’t have thought I would’ve gotten second at section on bars. Bars is usually my weakest thing, so it’s been crazy to make it on both of those.”
Winning three of the four events, Annandale senior Becca Green ran away with the section all-around title with a 37.95. Finishing third with a score of 36.175, Benson/KMS’ Libby McGeary just made the all-around state cut, besting senior teammate Mariah Ahrdt by 0.025.
McGeary earned her highest event score of 9.25 on beam.
“It feels good. I got through my routine with a stick (on her dismount),” McGeary said. “I felt very confident.”
Despite missing out on the all-around, Ahrdt qualified for state on the bars, beam and floor.
The Wildcats send three gymnasts to St. Paul.
Junior Lili Sampson earned her spot in vault with a 9.275. In her first year on varsity, Kamryn Quenemoen earn a spot on the floor and joins Sampson in the vault.
“The key to the day was staying calm, remembering what we’ve been working on in practice to keep our routines solid,” Quenemoen said. “I’m hoping to do about the same (at state) as I did today. But hopefully we can get back into the gym, put some upgrades in and keep working.
The Class A Individual championships begin at 11 am. Saturday.