1/23/2014 3:54:00 PM North Branch gymnasts unleash best meet against rivals CL and SF
The North Branch girls varsity team enjoyed their big win over Chisago Lakes after the meet last week. From left to right is Mikayla Johnson, Alexys Olson, Katy Trunk, Megan Mahoney and Casey Hovland.
by JEFF NORTON
North Branch and Chisago Lakes were two of the top three teams in the old North Suburban Conference for the last five years. They constantly were jockeying for extra points because they were also so close in talent and just the most minute mistake could cost a team a place in the conference standings St. Francis ended up on top most of the time, but North Branch and Chisago Lakes were always right on their heels, they would flip flop with each other for second and third and last year, the team’s split their meets against each other. It’s been a very evenly matched rivaly for a half decade. But not in 2014.
The two teams teams participated in a triangular on Saturday, January 18 and North Branch, who has possibly their best team in school history, was spot on, while the Wildcats, who are down a little bit this year, couldn’t match the Vikings’ lofty marks. The Vikings had four of the top five all around performers at the meet, including the top two in Katy Trunk and Megan Mahoney. Trunk’s only sub-nine score was her beam routine, which she scored an 8.55 in. Other than that, Trunk went 9.45 in the vault and 9.45 in the floor. She added a 9 in her bars routine, and that left her with an all-around score of 36.45. Mahoney put together one of her best meets, also, even though she is new to the rivalry coming from club gymnastics. She scored an astounding 9.7 on the uneven bars, leading the way by almost a half a point. She then added an 8.95 on the valut, an 8.7 on the balance beam and an 8.625 on floor.
St. Anthony Village’s Kia Kivi came in third place over all with three routines in the nines, but then Casey Hovland and Mikayla Johnson were right behind for North Branch. Hovland scored a 9.15 on the floor, a 9.05 on the balance beam, an 8.45 on the uneven bars and an 8.15 on the vault. The senior has really made big strides to not only stay in the lineup this year but to excel in her events. In fifth place, Johnson scored a 9.3 on the vault, an 8.675 on the floor, 8.275 on the bars and 7.9 on the balance beam. “The girls are doing great,” Assistant Coach Brianna McClaskie said. “They are absolutely on track to where we want them to be. Our goals at the beginning of the season were to break 140 and make it to state as a team and we really undershot those goals. Now I think we should break 143 and place in the top five at the state meet.”
Alexys Olson, who was one of the NB’s top gymnasts last year, chipped in a few points also. She scored an 8.6 on vault, and 8.3 on floor, a 7.65 on beam and 7.275 on the uneven bars. The girls combined for a school-record score of 141.875. It was the first time in school history they eclipsed the 140 mark. The score put them on the brink of top five status in the state in Class A. Perham, the fifth ranked team in the state, has registered a 143.050 this year. Sixth-ranked Watertown-Mayer’s best score was a 140.700, so the Lady Vikings should slot between those two when the newest rankings come out. “[Head Coach] Barb Burdick has done an amazing job with this program. We have heard so many times from various judges and coaches that we were an unexpected surprise. That is a huge complement and just shows how far North Branch gymnastics has come,” McClaskie said. “The girls, junior varsity and varsity, are workers. No excuses -- they came into this season to win and so far we have. It is really fun to see how excited the gymnasts are and to see it pay off for them.”
In the triangular, Chisago Lakes took third place. The ‘Cats finished with 125.875 points. Betsy Howerton was the top scorer for the Wildcats, registering a 32.075. She scored an 8.525 in the floor exercise and an 8.4 in the vault. She also scored 8.1 on the balance beam. Eighth-grader Emily Aiple acored three eights en route to a 31.925, but she struggled a bit on the uneven bars, keeping her from a much better score. She scored 8.675 on the floor, 8.3 on the vault and 8.2 on the beam. Izzy Hindt scored a 30.375 for the Wildcats and Courtney Schlegel registered a score of 29.5. “We had some struggles on bars and beam and were definitely feeling the exhaustion of three meets in five days, both physically and mentally,” Chisago Lakes Head Coach Kristin Johnson said. “We had seven falls between those two events. Considering the schedule these girls worked, they did very well with only decreasing their team total by 2.5 points.”