The closest thing the athletic world has to a three-ring circus has to be a quadrangular gymnastics meet.
A quadrangular features four teams, and four events all going on at once. Also adding to the atmosphere is four groups of parents, teammates and friends shouting encouragement to different girls competing at the same time.
The host Brainerd Warriors finished second in their four-team quadrangular Saturday. Wayzata, the top-ranked team in Minnesota, won the event with 142.1 points followed by Brainerd with 140.4, St. Paul Highland Park 135.0 and Robbinsdale/Armstrong 124.7.
The atmosphere was busy and electric, as Brainerd coach Dave Maras proved after the meet as he scurried around the floor exercise mat, scraping his feet and passing around little electric shocks to hand-holding teams of squealing gymnasts.
"This was a great meet, said Maras. "Wayzata is probably the top-ranked team in the state and they really came through. We hung in there with them. We gave them a run."
Despite their top ranking, Wayzata was no match for the Brainerd contingent in one area of competition. The Warriors dominated in the floor exercise as Amanda Johnson, Annalisa Aakhus and Molly Smith swept the first three places.
Wayzata showed its strength by winning every other event. The Trojans' Kristin Hunke was victorious on the uneven parallel bars, Jordan Robinson won the balance beam and Tami Hels captured the title in both the vault and all-around competition.
Brainerd's Briana Lester captured third place on the bars while Kathleen Lorenz finished fifth.
"It was great today," said Lester. "The team competed very well. I hit my handstand and then on floor we just rocked. It was awesome."
"Our bars are really awesome," said Maras. "I mean, we made some minor mistakes, which cost us a bunch, but the bars are going to be really strong for us."
An eighth-place finish by Annalisa Aakhus was the top Warrior performance on the balance beam.
"We have probably the best beam that we've had, ever," said Maras. "But today, we didn't capitalize on that. But that's what happens."
Molly Smith finished second on the vault and earned third-place honors in the all-around competition.
"I thought our kids started out real good on vault," said Maras. "We did have a couple of mistakes but for the most part we had a nice vault."
Part of that strong vault performance featured Tara Schmidt who finished fifth in the event and captured eighth place in the all-around. Surprisingly, it was her performance on the bars that pleased her the most.
"My highlight today was bars," said Schmidt. "That's kind of surprising because that's my worst event. I hate bars. It's hard to balance your practice time when you do all four events. Bars is usually my downfall because that's where I spend the least amount of practice time. But I hit my routine pretty well today."
Team scores 1- Wayzata 142.10, 2- Brainerd 140.40, 3- St. Paul Highland Park 135.05, 4- Robbinsdale/Armstrong, 124.75.
Uneven parallel bars -- 1- Kristin Hunke (Wayzata) 9.15, 3- Briana Lester (B) 9.05, 5- Kathleen Lorenz (B) 8.8, 8- Molly Smith (B) 8.5, 10- Katie Perpich (B) 8.3, 12- Tonya Redshaw (B) 8.08, 14- Lauren Trapp (B) 7.9, 15- Tara Schmidt (B) 7.8, 17- Stephanie Peterson (B) 7.45.
Balance beam -- 1- Jordan Robinson (W) 9.45, 8- Annalisa Aakhus (B) 8.45, 10- Schmidt (B) 8.4, 11- Amanda Johnson (B) 8.35, 12- Perpich (B) 8.35, 13- Lorenz (B) 8.35, 17- Nicole Kronbeck (B) 7.85, 18- Tessa Helland (B) 7.75, 21- Smith (B) 7.65.
Floor exercise -- 1- Johnson (B) 9.4, 2- Aakhus (B) 9.2, 3- Smith (B) 9.1, 8- Lorenz (B) 8.8, 9- Perpich (B) 8.8, 12- Schmidt (B) 8.3, 16- Annie Bahr (B) 7.8, 23- Tessa Helland (B) 6.95.
Vault -- 1- Hels (W) 9.55, 2- Molly Smith (B) 9.5, 5- Schmidt (B) 8.9, 6- Bahr (B) 8.75, 8- Johnson (B) 8.55, 10- Aakhus (B) 8.5, 12- Helland (B) 8.5, 16- Perpich (B) 8.2, 19- Jenny Carson (B) 8.05.
All-around -- 1- Hels (W) 36.85, 3- Smith (B) 34.75, 6- Perpich (B) 33.65, 8- Schmidt (B) 33.4
Conference -- B 1-0. Overall -- B 1-0. Next meet -- Brainerd hosts St. Cloud Apollo 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
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