Gymnastics: NLS ready for the bright(er) lights
Wildcats one of five teams back from last season's Class A state championship meet
ST. PAUL — New London-Spicer gymnastics is ready to hit the big stage at state.
Yes, the Wildcats won the Section 6A championship in 2021. But due to precautions over the COVID-19 pandemic, the state meet was held at Champlin Park High School with no tickets sold to the general public.
This time around, NLS will hear the roar of the crowd at Roy Wilkins Auditorium as one of eight teams vying for the Class A championship at 6 p.m. Friday.
“The venue’s different this year; it’s in a real spot,” said Wildcats freshman Abby Knudsen. “It’ll be more of an experience than last year.”
Coming off a school record score of 143.850 at the Section 6A championship last Saturday in Litchfield, NLS is one of five teams making a return to state in 2022. Those returning teams include: Mankato West, Worthington, Watertown-Mayer/Mayer Lutheran and Big Lake.
Other teams in the state field include: Byron, Mahtomedi and Detroit Lakes.
W-M/M-W is the returning state champion in Class A and is the top-ranked team in the state with a final average score of 146.650. Big Lake (second, 145.617), Worthington (third, 144.525), NLS (fourth, 142.792), Mahtomedi (sixth, 141.742), Mankato West (seventh, 141.475), and Detroit Lakes (eighth, 140.783) are all ranked in the top 10.
NLS’ rotation will begin with floor exercise, followed by vault, uneven bars and balance beam.
Last year, the Wildcats took fifth with a team score of 142.400.
During the individual meet at 6 p.m. Saturday back at Roy Wilkins, the Wildcats have five individuals in the mix: Anderson (all-around), Knudsen (uneven bars, balance beam), Kaitlyn Preheim (beam, floor exercise), Kamryn Quenemoen (bars) and Kaisa Williams (floor).
“I’m really excited,” said NLS sophomore Ciera Anderson, who placed seventh in all-around last season. “Going a second year in a row is pretty crazy. I kind of know where I’m at and it’s more fun now because we got (sections) over with and so we can just go out there and have fun.”
Benson/Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg junior Libby McGeary has the distinction of being the only returning state champion in the Class A field. She won the beam in 2021 with a score of 9.6.
On Saturday, McGeary won the section all-around title with a combined score of 37.125.
A three-time state entrant, McGeary kept it simple when looking at the week ahead after winning the top spot at sections.
“I just got to remember to relax and everything will go right,” she said.
Litchfield senior Grace Borowiz will make her first appearance at the state tournament, competing in the balance beam. She qualified after finishing in a tie for fifth at sections with an 8.8.
Willmar sophomore Lyndi Koosman will compete at state in three events. She was the section champion on floor after scoring a 9.4 on Saturday. She also competes on bars and vault.
And she won’t be alone for the vault as two other Cardinals — sophomore Kylie Porttiin and eighth-grader Mallory Beier — made the cut.
“That’s super exciting,” Koosman said about not going to state alone.
Said Willmar head coach Josie Kent, “Our vaults were a definite highlight (at sections). We had five pike tsuks (quarter-turn on the horse, followed by a back flip) and they all stood them up. That hasn’t happened yet this year. So it was a really, really good time (and) a really good vault set.”
Section 6A competitors will have a rotation of beam, floor, vault and bars.
W-M/M-W has two of the top returning gymnasts from last season’s state meet. Senior Anna Mielke was second in the all-around and vault and was third on floor. Another senior, Reagan Kelley, was the runner-up on bars. Byron junior Amber Robie is also back after finishing runner-up to McGeary on the beam.
Class A state gymnastics
Team championship: 6 p.m. Friday; Individual championships: 6 p.m. Saturday
Roy Wilkins Auditorium, St. Paul
Must be purchased online at mshsl.org/tickets
Two-day pass available for $19.99 on prepspotlight.tv
Byron, Mankato West, Worthington, Mahtomedi, Watertown-Mayer/Mound-Westonka, New London-Spicer, Big Lake, Detroit Lakes
Ciera Anderson (all-around); Kaitlyn Preheim (beam, floor); Abby Knudsen (bars, beam); Kamryn Quenemoen (bars); Kaisa Williams (floor)
Libby McGeary (all-around)
Grace Borowicz (beam)
Lyndi Koosman (floor, bars, vault); Kylie Porttiin (vault); Mallory Beier (vault)