Alyssa Haus admitted to being nervous, but excited at the same time.
The Becker senior was confronted with the notion that Saturday’s Section 7A gymnastics championships could be her last meet.
“You always want to do your best,” Haus said. “You work so hard, you want to show people what you’ve got, you know?
Haus showed the appreciative crowd at Monticello High School she was ready to go back to state one last time.
Haus won the vault with a 9.5 and took second in the overall with a 36.375 to earn a berth in Friday and Saturday’s state Class A gymnastics championships at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion.
“She has a beautiful vault,” Becker head coach Jen Harmoning said. “She’s been qualifying for state since she was in seventh grade and placed down there, so this was nice.”
It was a nice day, too, for the Big Lake Hornets. They won the team championship to earn a berth in the state Class A team meet at 11 a.m. Friday.
The Hornets scored a 143.725 in a meet that figured to be close, based on state rankings. Big Lake was rated seventh with a 141.583.
Becker was ranked 10th in the state, Sauk Rapids was 12th, Monticello 15th, Sartell 18th and Annandale 20th. And they’re all in Section 7A.
Becker took second Saturday with a 141.5, followed by Sauk Rapids (137.475), Sartell (136.975), Monticello (135.9) and Annandale (133.75) in the 11-team meet.
Big Lake, the defending section champion, dominated. The Hornets send Laura Jore, Courtney Jensen and Cassie Knick to state.
“We’re really happy with second, actually,” Harmoning said. “We had a really rough bars, but we bounced back well.
“We’re a really inexperienced team, very young. But it was good to see us improve.”
The top team and the top four individuals in each event and all-around scoring qualify for state. Also headed to the Sports Pavilion are Sauk Rapids’ Sydney Schindler and Alyssa Wagner, Sartell’s Jenisa Cash and Anna Neeser and Annandale’s Brooke Brower. Haus joins teammates Hailey Hubbard and Montanna Edling at state in individual competition.
Each area athlete advancing to state has a different story, of course. For Sauk Rapids, it was a nerve-wracking day. The Storm have five seniors, the most of any section team. And things started poorly, with Sauk Rapids having difficulty on the vault and uneven parallel bars before its fortunes improved.
“That was a really rough start,” Schindler said. “It was really frustrating.
Schindler earned her third trip to state, qualifying with a 9.225 on the balance beam, good for a second-place finish. She made it her ninth-grade and sophomore years, missing state last season due to injury.
“I was going all out for that one,” Schindler said of her beam routine. “I knew I wasn’t going to go in all-around, so I figured what would it matter if I fall again?
Wagner, a former Northcrest club gymnast, earns her first trip. She took fourth in the bars (8.775) and was third in the all-around (35.625).
“There were a lot of nerves,” Wagner said. “The whole team was a little off today. But we went out with a bang, two people going to state.”
That’s two more than the Storm sent last year.
Sartell, meanwhile, was delighted with its 136.975. It was a season-best. The Sabres also have two gymnasts heading to state. For Cash, a senior, it’s a nice way to end a career. She has never been to state before.
“I was really surprised,” said Cash, who finished fourth in the all-around (35.5) and fourth on the beam (9.125). “I didn’t think I was going to go to state. It was my last chance, so I’m kind of shocked.”
Neeser, a sophomore, has been nursing an ankle injury and hadn’t practiced the pike-tsuk she nailed on the vault for a career-best 9.4 and a second-place finish.
“I just decided to go with it, try my hardest and see what happened,” Neeser explained. “It’s kind of surprising for me.
“I wasn’t even thinking of doing pikes at the end of the year. It was just a last-minute decision.”
And one that paid off. Now it’s off to Minneapolis.
* Annandale’s Nicole Green was named the Section 7A coach of the year. Monticello’s Kelly Osland was named the section’s assistant coach of the year.
* Brower, a ninth-grader, advanced by taking third on the beam (9.2) and tying for third on the vault (9.325).
* Sauk Rapids won the Section 7A all-academic team award for having the best overall team grade-point average. Earning gold-medal section honors were Monticello, Becker, Sartell and the Storm. Earning silver-medal academic honors were Annandale, Dassel-Cokato and Big Lake.
Team scores – 1. Big Lake 143.725; 2. Becker 141.5; 3. Sauk Rapids 137.475; 4. Sartell 136.975; 5. Monticello 135.9; 6. Annandale 133.75; 7. Maple Lake 127.1; 8. Dassel-Cokato 123.675; 9. Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted 115.825; 10. Princeton 115.625; 11. Zimmerman 76.825.
Vault – 1. Alyssa Haus (Becker) 9.5; 2. Anna Neeser (Sartell) 9.4; 3. (tie) Brooke Brower (Annandale), Laura Jore (Big Lake) 9.325.
Bars – 1. Courtney Jensen (BL) 9.125; 2. Jore (BL) 9.05; 3. Haus (Becker) 8.825; 4. Alyssa Wagner (Sauk Rapids) 8.775.
Beam – 1. Jore (BL) 9.4; 2. Sydney Schindler (SR) 9.225; 3. Brower (Ann) 9.2; 4. Jenisa Cash (Sartell) 9.125.
Floor – 1. Jore (BL) 9.450; 2. Cassie Knick (BL) 9.425; 3. (tie) Haley Hubbard (Becker) and Montanna Edling (Becker) 9.275.
All-around – 1. Jore (BL) 37.225; 2. Haus (Becker) 36.375; 3. Wagner (SR) 35.625; 4. Cash (Sartell) 35.5.