ST. CLOUD -- The Brainerd Warriors gymnastics team repeated as Section 8AA champion with 144.075 points and qualified five gymnasts for individual state competition next weekend at Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul.
Brainerd junior Amanda Rau qualified for individual state competition by finishing second Saturday on the uneven parallel bars and balance beam.
Other Warrior individuals qualifying for state included Molly Smith, runner-up on vault; Kathleen Lorenz, fourth on balance beam; Annalisa Aakhus, fourth on floor; and Tara Schmidt, fourth in all-around.
The Warriors had their second-highest score of the season to beat runner-up St. Cloud Tech by one point. Moorhead was third with 137.125 points thanks to sophomore Jacenta Spandl, who won all four events and the all-around title.
"We were as strong as we were in the conference meet," Brainerd coach Dave Maras said. "In fact, our beam was even better. All four of our scores that counted were hit routines. We had only one fall on beam. That's huge, especially in a meet like this, and our score indicates that.
"Tech kept us on our toes. We had to hit everything in order to beat them. It wasn't like we breezed through this thing. Tech was a very good team."
Rau, a junior, scored 9.45 points on beam and 9.35 on bars to earn her second trip to state.
"Amanda hit her vault probably as well as she has all year," Maras said. "Then she came back and hit her beam. We really needed her. Her beam routine was aggressive and impressed the judges. She's got a lot of risk in there. She just nailed it.
"Amanda had an excellent bars routine. She had a couple things in there that were extremely difficulty and hit them. Her routine was not as clean as it has been but it was still outstanding."
Smith, a sophomore, will make her second trip to state on vault following a 9.425 at the section.
"Molly hit her vaults as well as she can," Maras said. "She nailed both vaults. She couldn't do any more."
Lorenz, a seventh-grader, scored 9.15 on beam to earn her first trip to state.
"It's probably the best beam team we have had for several years," Maras said. "We had to lead off with a couple young kids, Annalisa Aakhus (an eighth-grader) and Kathleen. Kathleen got up there in the first big section meet of her life and just drilled her routine."
Aakhus scored 9.15 on floor to qualify for state for the first time.
"Annalisa was first up on floor," Maras said. "Generally speaking, the first person up is not the best place to be if you want to qualify for state.
"Annalisa did an outstanding job out there. She did everything we asked of her, plus the fact we put her up on beam. She had a great night."
Schmidt placed fourth in the all-around with a total of 35.125 points to earn her first trip to state. She was 11th on bars, 14th on beam, fifth on floor, and sixth on vault.
"Tara has three really strong events," Maras said. "Bars isn't her strongest at this point. She went out and swung on the bars like she owned them. She was a pretty happy gal when they announced fifth place and her name hadn't been called yet.
"Tara had a great vault. She threw a Tsuk for the first time and hit it."
Team scores -- Brainerd 144.075, St. Cloud Tech 143.075, Moorhead 137.125, Bemidji 134.85, Elk River 134.225, Alexandria 128.2, Buffalo 127.75, Apollo 125.75, Little Falls 122.225
Uneven parallel bars -- 1-Jacenta Spandl (Moor) 9.425, 2-Amanda Rau (Brd) 9.35, 5-Briana Lester (Brd) 8.9, 7-Crystal Yaunick (Brd) 8.875, 9-Ashley Thompson (LF) 8.65, 11-Tara Schmidt (Brd) 8.4, 14-Molly Zauhar (Brd) 8.325
Balance beam -- 1-Spandl (Moor) 9.55, 2-Rau (Brd) 9.45, 4-Kathleen Lorenz (Brd) 9.15, 13-Annalisa Aakhus (Brd) 8.6, 14-Schmidt (Brd) 8.5, 15-Shayna McCulloch (Brd) 8.4, 21-Thompson (LF) 8.1
Floor exercise -- 1-Spandl (Moor) 9.75, 4-Aakhus (Brd) 9.15, 5-Schmidt (Brd) 9.125, 7-Molly Smith (Brd) 9.1, 8-Amanda Johnson (Brd) 9.075, 11-Yaunick (B) 9.025, 14-Thompson (LF) 8.875
Vault -- 1-Spandl (Moor) 9.5, 2-Smith (Brd) 9.425, 5-Rau (Brd) 9.175, 6-Schmidt (Brd) 9.1, 19-Ylitalo (LF) 8.7, 20-Zauhar (Brd) 8.7, 22-Annie Bahr (Brd) 8.65
All-around -- 1-Spandl (Moor) 38.225, 4-Schmidt (Brd) 35.125, 9-Thompson (LF) 34.025
Next meet -- Brainerd in Class AA state team meet 6 p.m. Friday, state individual meet 6 p.m. Saturday, both at Wilkins Auditorium, St. Paul.
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