UPDATED with Individual Gymnastics Results: Flying colors
WILLMAR--The Willmar gymnastics team is going to state. Or, rather, they're vaulting, jumping, balancing and flipping their way there. The Cardinals punched their ticket to the Class A state tournament on Saturday at Litchfield High School, winni...
WILLMAR-The Willmar gymnastics team is going to state.
Or, rather, they're vaulting, jumping, balancing and flipping their way there.
The Cardinals punched their ticket to the Class A state tournament on Saturday at Litchfield High School, winning the Section 6A championship by nearly five points to dethrone state power Melrose earn the third team state tournament appearance in school history.
"It's so satisfying," Willmar head coach Jodi Mottinger, named the section head coach of the year on Saturday, said. "I don't think it's really set in yet, but this was the kind of performance that I knew the girls had in them."
Thanks to strong showings in the floor exercise and vault, coupled with a season-best score on the bars, the Cardinals posted a score of 146.550, while the Dutchmen saw their streak of 10 consecutive section titles come to a close with a 141.650.
"I thought we had won just from watching throughout the afternoon," Mottinger said. "It was nice from that standpoint to be less nervous than usual and just be able to watch the girls celebrate. Being able to focus on their reaction and see them so happy made a great moment."
Celebrate they did. After Melrose's name was announced for second place, leaving just Willmar remaining for the section title, the team broke out in tears and hugs.
"I'm so happy for just such a resilient bunch of girls," Mottinger said. "This has really been our goal all year long and we've had a bunch of ups-and-downs, but to come out here and put on that kind of performance I knew we were capable of is awesome."
Willmar will make perform at the state tournament for the first time in 21 years on Friday, with action beginning at 11 a.m.
All year long, the Cardinals were boosted by their team depth, even earning the top ranking in the state before sliding into the No. 3 spot entering Saturday. With four gymnasts qualifying for the individual state tournament, as well, on the day, that depth was on display yet again.
Abby Coquyt qualified for state in the all-around competition as a freshman, tying for second place with a 36.450 finish. She will compete in all four events at the individual state tournament on Saturday Feb. 24.
Kirah Kessler-Gross led the charge on beam and floor, posting first-place finishes in both to also qualify.
Lydia Morrell and Jolissa Lara will also join Kessler-Gross and Coquyt, with Morrell performing in the floor exercise in addition to the bars, in which she took first on Saturday.
Lara rounded out Willmar's individual qualifiers, doing so in the bars and recording the team's best score in the vault.
It was a bounce-back effort for the Cardinals, who scored a 144.825 just seven days prior at the Central Lakes Conference championships to drop out of first place.
"This was the kind of day that we knew we had in us, but it came down to coming through on that," Mottinger said. "Last week was a little rough with our day at conference, but the girls rebounded so well at practice this week."
New London-Spicer finished third with a score of 139.5 and Benson/KMS/Montevideo took fourth place at 136.725.
Joining Willmar at the Class A meet will be Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa, Waconia, Worthington, Mahtomedi, Watertown Mayer/Mound Westonka, Sartell-St. Stephen and three-time defending champion Detroit Lakes.
The Cardinals know that there is still plenty of work to do ahead of them.
That wasn't going to stop the celebration on Saturday.
"(Going to state), it's new to us," Mottinger said. "So I guess we'll just have to enjoy this for the time being and then figure out what the heck to do."
Section 6A Meet
Emily Novak of New London-Spicer led the charge of other area gymnasts, taking fifth in the all-around, highlighted by a fifth-place finish in the vault.
Mariah Arndt of Benson/KMS/Montevideo and teammate Halle Hanson took sixth and seventh place in the all-around, respectively, while NLS' Ashlyn Olson was ninth.
(1) Willmar 146.550 (2) Melrose 141.650 (3) New London-Spicer 139.550 (4) Benson-KMS-Montevideo 136.725 (5) Maple Lake 133.250 (6) Annandale 131.500 (7) Litchfield 130.700 (8) Dassel-Cokato 129.800 (9) HLWW/HT 124.250 (10) Paynesville/EV-W 123.000
Individual Results (Winner and area in Top 10)
ALL-AROUND - (1) Greta Klaphake, Melrose, 36.650 (T-2) Abigail Coquyt, Willmar, 36.450 ... (5) Emily Novak, NLS, 35.800 (6) Mariah Ahrndt, B/KMS/M, 35.550 (7) Halle Hanson, B/KMS/M, 34.450 (9) Ashlyn Olson, NLS, 34.275
VAULT - (1) Greta Klaphake, Melrose, 9.60 (T-2) Jolissa Lara, Willmar, 9.500 ... (5) Emily Novak, NLS, 9.200 (T-6) Kirah Kessler-Gross, Willmar, and Presleigh Schrupp, Willmar, 9.175 (8) Abigail Coquyt, Willmar, 9.150 (9) Mariah Ahrndt, B/KMS/M, 9.125 (10) Lydia Morrell, Willmar, 9.100
BARS - (1) Lydia Morrell, Willmar, 9.300 ... (4) Jolissa Lara, Willmar, 8.875 (5) Presleigh Schrupp, Willmar, 8.725 (6) Abigail Coquyt, Willmar, 8.675 (7) Charlie Robinson, NLS, 8.600 (9) Emily Novak, NLS, 8.450 (10) Tayva Carruthers, Willmar, 8.325
BEAM - (1) Kirah Kessler-Gross, Willmar, 9.250 ... (5) Abigail Coquyt, Willmar, 9.175 (T-6) Mariah Ahrndt, B/KMS/M, and Tayva Carruthers, Willmar, 9.100 (T-8) Emily Novak, NLS, and Halle Hanson, B/KMS/M, 9.025
FLOOR - (1) Kirah Kessler-Gross, Willmar, 9.575 ... (3) Abigail Coquyt, Willmar, 9.450 (4) Lydia Morrell, Willmar, 9.40 (5) Mariah Ahrndt, B/KMS/M, 9.325 (T-7) Ashlyn Olson, NLS, and Olivia Welsh, Willmar, 9.300 (10) Emily Novak, NLS, 9.125