Last year, members of the Melrose gymnastics team got their first taste of a championship.
On Friday they felt what it’s like to come up just short.
The Dutchmen are a young team with all of their parts returning and believes next season is their year, but Friday was not Melrose’s day at the Class A gymnastics meet at the University of Minnesota’s Sports Pavillion.
The top of the podium belonged to New Prague, which scored 149.6 points. Melrose finished in second with 147.9.
“Taking second is a little different,” said Melrose sophomore Lydia Butkowski. “I would’ve liked to take first, but next year we’ll have the exact same team back.”
St. Cloud Tech/Cathedral finished third in Class 2A with 149.15 points. Roseville won its sixth title in eight years with 149.7 points and Northfield was runner-up with 149.325.
Melrose might not only be an early favorite to win next season’s Class A title, but the Dutchmen could also be on the verge of a dynasty.
Junior Jailyn Brinkman was the oldest competitor for Melrose, followed by Butkowski. Three of Melrose’s competing gymnasts – eighth-graders Mady Brinkman and Kayla Austing and seventh-grader Lauren Kingston – are still in middle school.
“We’re really pumped for next year because we lose no one and we only get stronger,” Jailyn Brinkman said.
Jailyn Brinkman posted a meet-high 9.725 on the uneven bars, a team-high 9.65 on the floor exercise and owned the meet’s best all-around score of 38.15.
Butkowski scored team-bests 9.5 on the beam and 9.45 on the vault. Austing’s personal best was a 9.275 on the floor, Mady Brinkman scored a 9.175 on the beam and Kingston scored an 8.8 on the floor.
But throughout the meet, New Prague was better.
Competing with their coach Matt Shetka – who died of a heart attack in the early weeks of the season – on their minds, the Trojans held the lead for most of the meet.
“I felt really happy for (New Prague) because they had a really rough year and they really deserved it,” Jailyn Brinkman said.
New Prague led Melrose by nearly a full point going into the final rotation before it ensured itself the championship by tying a state meet record score of 37.9 on the beam. The Trojans had better scores than the Dutchmen in all events.
“It was all going to come down to who was super clean, who was going to land on their feet,” said Melrose coach Katie Masog.
Tech takes 3rd
It took an amazing round on the uneven bars for Roseville to come from behind and slip past St. Cloud Tech/Cathedral for its second straight Class 2A title.
“I knew that Roseville and Northfield have strong bars and that’s their last event,” said Tech coach Joel Stark-Haws. “If we were going to have any chance of winning the state meet, I knew it was because we would be in first place going into the last rotation.”
The Tigers led the competition by 25 hundredths of a point going into the final round of events, but Roseville scored a 38.425 on the bars. Tech/Cathedral scored a 37.625 in its final event, the vault.
“Roseville and Northfield capitalized on their last event and that’s how it goes,” Stark-Haws said. “We scratched and clawed to stay in the game and a third-place finish is nothing to hang our heads on.”
Mariah Miller led Tech/Cathedral on the vault (9.5) and the bars (9.425). Paige Beuning had a team-best 9.425 on the beam and Katlyn Mohs scored a 9.525 on the floor.
“It feels so good to medal with my team,” said Miller, a Cathedral student. “I had a great experience with them and it’s the experience that really counts. Having the medal is the cherry on top.”
1. New Prague 149.6; 2. Melrose 147.9; 3. Austin 146.425; 4. Perham 146.425; 5. Big Lake 142.30; 6. Jackson County Central 141.30; 7. Rush City/Pine City/Hinckley-Finlayson 140.325; 8. Delano 139.25.
1. Roseville 149.7; 2. Northfield 149.325; 3. St. Cloud Tech 149.150; 4. Park of Cottage Grove 146.05; 5. Wayzata 144.6; 6. Mahtomedi 141.125; 7. Prior Lake 141.025; 8. Cambridge/Isanti 138.85.