Can anyone say dynasty?
For the fourth year in a row, the Brainerd Warriors gymnastics team captured the Section 8, Class 2A championship Saturday and will make another trip to St. Paul to compete in the state meet.
Following the same script as the Central Lakes Conference meet two weeks ago, the Warriors edged out a formidable St. Cloud Tech team on their way to posting a school-record 146.275 points. Tech was second with 144.775 while Moorhead finished third with 141.35.
"Coming into today, we knew we'd have to have a banner day," said Warriors head coach Dave Maras. "I've been telling the girls all week there is no tomorrow and that it would come down to whoever hit their stuff. We didn't want to wake up in the morning and wonder what would have happened 'if'."
Katie Perpich of the Brainerd Warriors performed on the uneven bars in the Section 8, Class 2A meet Saturday. (Dispatch Photos by Clint Wood)
Tech head coach David Hoeller also knew it would be a close meet.
"We were chasing Brainerd the whole way," Hoeller said. "We were looking for them to give us an opening and they just wouldn't do it. They have such a strong, nice team."
The Warriors were paced by the strong and steady performances of Kathleen Lorenz and Katie Perpich. Lorenz finished second in the all-around competition with a score of 37.25 and will compete at state in three individual events. Perpich will also compete in three individual events at state and scored 37.00 in the all-around, good for third place.
After registering a 35.775 on vault, the Warriors nailed the uneven parallel bars with a 36.90. The Warriors' Lorenz, Perpich and Briana Lester led the charge by scoring 9s or better.
The Warriors were again led by Lorenz and Perpich, this time on the balance beam, as they scored a 9.45 and a 9.225, but it was the performance of Tessa Helland that made the difference as she hit her routine with a 9.225.
"Tessa was sick for a few days and she got up on beam and looked like she belonged there," Maras said. "She had an absolutely incredible routine."
With only a sliver of a lead over Tech going into the final event, the pressure began to mount.
But the Warriors were up to the challenge as they scored 37.05 on their floor exercise routine, their best score for an event all day, sealing the victory and the championship.
"We battled through so many things this year," Lester said as she clutched the championship trophy. "We got our goal and we're going to state. We'll have fun down there and just try to perform our hearts out."
With two gymnasts competing at state individually, Maras and his team know how special it is for the entire team to be able to compete together at the highest level.
"That's the ultimate goal," Maras said. "For everyone to do their stuff and go down to state as a team and just the fact that we did it as a team, makes it that much more special."
Said Perpich, "Everybody could go down to state as an individual, but when you go as a team, it's that much more fun."
Final team scores -- 1-Brainerd 146.275, 2-St. Cloud Tech 144.775, 3-Moorhead 141.35, 4-Elk River 139.90, 5-Willmar 136.70, 6-Maple Grove 133.295, 7-Bemidji 131.85, 8-Buffalo 131.325, 9-Alexandria 128.175, 10-St. Cloud Apollo 125.70
Uneven parallel bars -- 1-Jacenta Spandl (M) 9.875, 2-Kathleen Lorenz (B) 9.5, 3-Katie Perpich (B) 9.35, 6-Briana Lester (B) 9.2, 11-Kara Rutman (B) 8.85, 16-Stephanie Peterson (B) 8.6.
Balance beam -- 1-Spandl (M) 9.775, 3-Lorenz (B) 9.45, 4-Perpich (B) 9.225, 5-Tessa Helland (B) 9.225, 14-Maggie Freiday (B) 8.65, 15-Danielle Arnold (B) 8.6.
Floor exercise -- 1-Annie Cullen (M) 9.70, 4-Lorenz (B) 9.4, 7-Amanda Johnson (B) 9.3, 8-Perpich (B) 9.25, 13-Annie Bahr (B) 9.1, 19-Helland (B) 8.95.
Vault -- 1-Beth Zimmer (W) 9.25, 3-Perpich (B) 9.175, 12-Lorenz (B) 8.9, 13-Bahr (B) 8.9, 15-Heather Mix (B) 8.8, 17-Lester (B) 8.75.
All-around -- 1-Spandl (M) 38.475, 2-Lorenz (B) 37.25, 3-Perpich (B) 37.00.
Next meet -- Brainerd at Class 2A state meet Friday and Saturday at Wilkins Auditorium, St. Paul.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.