Gymnasts gain valuable experience at state
The gymnastics season came to a close on Saturday, but for five area gymnasts, it concluded with solid performances and valuable experience on the largest stage.
Red Wing sent two gymnasts and Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa sent three to the Class A individual state gymnastics meet at Maturi Pavilion at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Jaci Newman and Sawyer Gorman of PIZM qualified for all-around, while Brynn Olson of PIZM, and Breck Bergin and Carolyn Hanson of Red Wing participated in select events.
The group started the day on vault, where Gorman led the way with a 9.5 — good enough for a 12th-place finish. Newman placed 19th with a 9.45, Olson 28th with a 9.350 and Bergin 29th with a 9.325.
"(Bergin) had a nice first vault ... not her personal best, but a very good score for her," Red Wing head coach Lisa Hanson said. "Breck got into her groove with the whole section cheering for her. She got her legs underneath her and just became more aggressive."
"Sawyer and Jaci were right up with their season highs," PIZM head coach Chris Templeton said. "Brynn's first one was just a little bit low and her second one was really nice, but she just opened and fell on it."
On bars, PIZM received a bit of a scare when medical staff checked on Newman after she flew off the bar on her jump, landing hard on the mat. Fortunately, she checked out OK and was able to compete in the remaining events.
"She got lucky and landed flat on her back, (it was) more of a score than anything," Templeton said.
Newman finished the bars with a 7.475 due to the fall, but Gorman had a respectable 8.825 to place 25th and Olson finished with a 8.650 to place 32nd.
On beam, PIZM put up a solid effort with Newman scoring near her personal best, logging a 9.325 to take 10th place. Gorman scored a 9.0 to take 18th and Carolyn Hanson received a 7.2 after a couple of costly falls.
"I think Carolyn just got a case of the state nerves." Lisa Hanson said. "She doesn't normally fall on beam, she's usually pretty consistent."
The group finished their day on floor, notching the highest placement of the day with Gorman's 9.525 to take seventh place — just one spot away from medal contention. Newman also scored well with a 9.45 to take 11th and Olson wrapped up her PIZM gymnastics career with a 9.150 for 31st.
As scores were finalized, Gorman finished her day with a 36.825 in all-around to take ninth place, while Newman received 35.7 to take 18th.
While the placements may not have been what the gymnasts were hoping for, the experience gained from taking on the state's top competition will only make them better in the long run.
"This is good practice for next year," Lisa Hanson said. "Now the girls know what to expect when they are up here next year."
Templeton seconded that sentiment.
"We have a very strong ninth-grade class. Hopefully we'll be back here again next year both as team and individuals," he said.
PIZM kicked the weekend off a day early by competing in the Class A team competition on Friday. The team started the day off on bars, where Lexi Macht scored a team-high 9.125 to pave the way for a fifth-place team score in the event. Templeton said they struggled a bit on beam with Gorman and Macht both falling. Those falls proved costly as the team finished last in the event. They made ground up on floor though. The scores were lower than normal, but they were good enough for fourth-place in the event. PIZM concluded on vault and recorded scores just above their section tally to finish the day in fifth-place overall.
"We had a goal coming in to finish higher than we were ranked," Templeton said. "We were ranked sixth coming into the meet and finished fifth, so an overall a good day."