The Brainerd Warriors gymnastics team finished second and qualified Samantha Smith, Becky Walker and Olivia Elsenpeter for state following Saturday's Section 8-2A meet at St. Cloud Tech.
Brainerd scored 142.675 points to trail only three-time defending section champion Tech with 148.800.
"That was about where we kind of thought we may end up," Warriors coach Dave Maras said. "Tech is the (third-ranked) team in the state right now. We were just hoping to get as many people in as we could.
"We left some points but every team does in meets. That's not an excuse. I was pleased with the way we performed. We had some outstanding performances on vault, the second best in school history (37.85). We had some great beam performances.
"All around, I thought we had a much better day than we did at the conference meet, obviously, because we were four points better."
Brainerd's Samantha Smith finished her dismount off of the balance beam in the Section 8-2A meet Saturday at St. Cloud Tech. Smith placed fourth and qualified for state in three events and the all-around. Bill Johnson
Smith qualified for state on floor exercise (section champion), uneven bars (fourth), beam (fourth) and all-around (second).
"Sam has the ability to rise to the occasion, as she does in every one of her sports," Maras said
Walker qualified on vault (fourth) and all-around (fourth).
"Becky was very focused," Maras said. "She was a little bummed by her score on bars. We thought it was a little better than it was, but she shook it off, kept going and finished fourth on vault (9.55).
"That (9.55) tells you how tough vault was in our section. Kelsi Ring and Shana Lingwall didn't even qualify with 9.475s."
Elsenpeter was runner-up on balance beam.
"Olivia has worked so hard the last couple weeks to clean (her routine) up," Maras said. "Last year she missed the section meet because she turned an ankle a couple days before. She's just kept plugging away all year. She's been first or second on beam.
"She had a great routine (Saturday). She picked the right time to make it her best."
In addition, teams were awarded medals for outstanding academic achievement in the section. Brainerd received a gold medal for a 3.765 team grade-point average.
Team scores: 1. St. Cloud Tech 148.800; 2. Brainerd 142.675; 3. Monticello 135.750; 4. Sauk Rapids 133.400; 5. Moorhead 131.775; 6. Bemidji Lumberjacks 130.925; 7. St. Michael-Albertville 129.525; 8. St. Cloud Apollo 128.125; 9. Alexandria 118.500.
Vault: 1-Alise Post (Tech) 9.850; 2-Karli Courrier (Tech) 9.575; 3-Candice Yager (SMA) 9.550; 4-(tie) Becky Walker (Brd) and Tabi Peterson (Tech) 9.525, 6-Kelsi Ring (Brd) 9.475, 7-Shana Lingwall (Brd) 9.475, 12-Madison Smith 9.075
Uneven parallel bars: 1-Post 9.575; 2-Genna Boeckmann (Tech) 9.450; 3-Peterson 9.275; 4-Samantha Smith (Brd) 9.200, 13-Mikayla Cerney (Brd) 8.2
Balance beam: 1-Post 9.575; 2-Olivia Elsenpeter (Brd) 9.450; 3-Courrier 9.050; 4-S. Smith 9.000, 9-Walker 8.6
Floor exercise: 1-S. Smith 9.625; 2-Amber Christenson (Tech) 9.475; 3-Courrier 9.450; 4-Peterson 9.325, 9-Ring 8.8.
All-around: 1-Post 38.000; 2-S. Smith 37.200; 3-Katrina Gerzema (Monti) 36.250; 4-Walker 34.975.
Next: Brainerd in Class 2A individual state tournament 6 p.m. Friday at the Sports Pavilion, University of Minnesota , Minneapolis.
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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