Gymnasts make historyEven the Wildcat gymnasts impressed themselves at Saturday’s sectional tournament.
By: Bob Burrows, River Falls Journal
Even the Wildcat gymnasts impressed themselves at Saturday’s sectional tournament.
“The look on the girls’ faces when they read off the 146 was fun to see,” head coach Shelly Kahut-Loomis said after the Cats won their eighth straight sectional title. “They deserved it today, and I’m very proud of them.”
Officially, River Falls set a new school record with a score of 146.475. The Cats will make their eighth straight trip to the WIA State Gymnastics Championships this weekend in Wisconsin Rapids. River Falls has qualified for the state meet 19 times in its 39-year history and won four state championships, the last in 2007.
In addition to qualifying for Saturday’s state team competition, the Cats also crowned three individual sectional champions and will be sending a total of six individuals to Friday night’s individual portion of the state tournament.
“We wanted to get as many individuals through to state as we could,” Kahut-Loomis said. “We got six of the eight girls who competed.”
How impressive were the Wildcats Saturday? Their team score of 146.475 is not only a new school record but also the highest score of any of the 20 state qualifying teams in any division this season.
The Cats took four of the five individual qualifying spots in three events, three in another and two in the all-around. All told, River Falls accounted for 17 of the 25 individual qualifying positions available Saturday.
“The 16 scores making up the team total of 146-plus gives them each a 9.1 average,” Kahut-Loomis noted. “It seems unbelievable, but this team just keeps raising the bar.”
Senior co-captain Rachel Paulson won three individual sectional titles, taking first in the vault with a score of 9.3, the uneven bars with 9.475 and the all-around with 37.675. Paulson’s score on bars broke the old school record set by current assistant coach Allie Flanscha in 2002, the year the Cats won their very first state title.
Senior Emmy Johnson won a sectional title in the floor exercise with a score of 9.5 while freshman Amanda Guise won a championship on the balance beam with a 9.45.
“It was a great way for Emmy and Rachel to wrap up their competition in our home gym, and wonderful to see freshman Amanda with such poise and determination on a very difficult event,” Kahut-Loomis said.
Joining Paulson at the state individual championships Saturday will be junior Carly Jerry, who finished as sectional runner-up with a score of 9.05, and junior Kali Kramolis, and Johnson, who tied for third along with Arcadia’s Cheyenne Reglin with 8.85.
On the uneven bars, the Cats will have Paulson, third-place finisher, freshman Ruth Anderson-Benge (9.1), fourth place finisher Kramolis (8.95) and fifth place Jerry (8.775).
In the floor exercise the Cats will have sectional champ Johnson, second place Paulson (9.475), fourth place Kramolis (9.275) and fifth place Jerry (9.2). Guise, Paulson (2nd, 9.425) and Johnson (4th, 9.0) will compete at state on the balance beam while Paulson and Kramolis qualified in the all-around. Kramolis finished second in the all-around Saturday with a total score of 35.85.
Joining the six individuals at Saturday’s team competition will be freshman Sierra Becker and senior co-captain Maggie Bloom.
Bloom, Paulson, Johnson, Kramolis and Jerry were all members of the Cats 2007 state championship winning team.
“I will always remember Maggie’s performance and mental readiness in 2007 when she was last on beam and hit a routine that sealed the team championship,” Kahut-Loomis said. “We are looking for her to lead the team Saturday and model that focus for our 2009 team.”
Kahut-Loomis said the team is healthy, strong and ready to repeat its sectional performance this weekend at state.
“That was about as close to a perfect day as you can get,” she said. “We will control what we can and leave the rest of the factor to fall into place as they may. We feel honored to be able to go down to state knowing we are one of the teams fighting for the championship.”
Kahut-Loomis said the gymnasts also wanted to extend a very special “good luck” to the St. Croix Valley Fusion girls’ hockey team as it competes at its very first state tournament this weekend.
“We want March 7 to be the day for a double championship for River Falls High School girls’ sports,” she said.
Friday’s individual competition gets underway at 5:40 p.m. while Saturday’s team tournament begins at noon at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School.