|12/20/2012 9:28:00 AM|
'Cats top Vikings in gymnastics showdown
By JEFF NORTON
Chisago Lakes 131.725, North Branch 129.225 When North Branch’s Casey Hovland began her floor exercise, the last performance in the last event on the night, the dual meet between North Branch and Chisago Lakes was still up for grabs. In what has been a back-and-forth, rough-and-tumble heated rivalry over the past few years, the Chisago Lakes gymnastics team won this chapter of the battle, but not without a small asterisk by it. A few days before the meet, North Branch senior Bayley Ertl, who is one of North Branch’s top gymnasts and regular all-around contributor, sprained her elbow in a fluke accident. Without her, North Branch was at a severe disadvantage in the match up. “We missed Bayley a lot,” North Branch Head Coach Brianna McClaskie said. “Her absence hurt us as a team.” Both the team and Ertl are hoping that it will only be a few weeks that she is out of action.
The Vikings began on the vault, where they scored 33.475, which was great considering they only had four gymnasts in the event and everyone had to be on point. Sophomore Katy Trunk led the Vikes with a 9.050 and both Jaime Salo and Maranda Nelson scored in the 8.2’s to bolster the score. The Wildcats just edged out North Branch, though, during their rotation. They didn’t have any scores as high as Trunk’s, but they got consistency all the way through. Alicia Sokol, Sam Thomsen, Courtney Schlegel and Betsy Howerton each scored between 8.275 and 8.575 to account for the ‘Cats 33.625, leaving them fractions ahead. On the uneven bars, Chisago Lakes got their biggest cushion of the meet. Behind strong performances from Thomsen, Sokol, Schlegel and Nicole Bean, the Wildcats scored a 31.300. Thomsen highlighted that score with an 8.4. The Vikings, on the other hand, were shorthanded still and had only four girls on the bars.
A tough routine by Nelson was costly without a fifth gymnast in the line up, and North Branch scored a 30.125. Seventh grader Alexys Olson scored an 8.250 in the event. Like many of both these squads’ meets, the event could’ve been decided on the balance beam. Both teams have had their troubles on the beam in the past, but both teams have also been capable of putting up strong scores in the event. North Branch took to the beam first and had a good run. Trunk scored an 8.475 and Hovland came through with a strong 8.350. Olson was right there with them, compiling a 7.950 for the Vikings. As a team, they scored 31.675 in the event and had to hope for one of Chisago Lakes’ rough nights where they scored in the high 20s in the event. But, the Wildcats did the exact opposite, registering a strong score on the beam with a total of 32.675.
Thomsen and Bean paced them in the event. Thomsen scored an 8.600 on the heels of signing her college letter of intent to dive at St. Cloud State a week earlier, and Bean registered an 8.525. Howerton had a nice routine for CL, scoring a 7.950 and Reba Berg scored a 7.600 to round out CL’s scores Heading into the final event -- although Chisago Lakes had topped North Branch in each event up to that point -- the Wildcats only held a two point lead over the Vikings. In the floor exercise, both team’s strengths, the girls really came out and competed. Not a single score under 8 was registered by the 10 girls who participated. Sokol and Trunk were the class of the event with Trunk scoring an 8.975 for NB and Sokol scoring an 8.9 for CL. For North Branch, Olson scored an 8.450, Salo an 8.275, Hovland and 8.250 and Nelson an 8.000. On CL’s side, Sokol was backed up by Thomsen’s 8.625, Howerton’s 8.350, Bean’s 8.250 and Berg’s 8.050. Again, the Wildcats narrowly beat out the Vikings in the event, sealing the team victory 131.725-129.225. “The girls did a great job tonight,” Chisago Lakes Head Coach Brett Kjos said.
“This will set up a great battle at sections, but we have a lot of work to do if we want to battle with Rush City for the section title.” “This was a very disappointing loss for us,” McClaskie said. “But we will see them again in the season.” Kjos noted that although there was no personal bests as the meet from his girls, it didn’t matter because they all just had solid performances. Trunk led the all-around performances with a 34.475. Thomsen was just behind her with a 34.075. Bean scored a 32.675 in third place while Olson scored a 32.550 in fourth. Sokol and Salo rounded out the top six all-around scores with a 32.025 and 30.525, respectively. “That wasn’t a bad second meet,” McClaskie said. “We have a lot of areas we are working on improving but all in all the girls performed well. Seventh grader Alexys Olson really stepped up and helped out our team score.”