By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
The St. Michael-Albertville gymnastics squad is showing signs of a much improved team as they gear up for the section playoffs.
Despite dropping a 134.1-120.95 dual meet Jan. 17 at Monticello, the 120.95 points marked a season high. Two weeks later, the Knights registered their first dual meet win in two years — knocking off conference rival Buffalo 120.45-119.575.
“We came into the year expected to lose,” said first-year head coach Nicole Ramler. “For the girls the win was exciting, especially to win against a conference rival.”
Jenna Lee is the lone senior on this year’s squad and Lee’s 8.7 score in the vault helped land her a first-place score of 31.08 in the all-around.
Ramler has high hopes for Lee, as the only potential STMA gymnast to qualify for state in the individuals next weekend at sections. “She has a chance,” she said.
Other highlights in the Jan. 31 win at Buffalo came on the uneven bars. Sophomore’s Julia Leigh, Jada Brown and Melissa Berning all scored above 6.75. Brown finishing tied for second place at 7.5. She finished the meet in third place with an all-around score of 30.85.
Squeezed between the two solid meets was a decisive 135.55-118.4 home loss to Big Lake. The Hornets are ranked No. 7 in Class AA and Ramler said the meet was a tough one.
“We didn’t do so well against a solid team in Big Lake,” Ramler said.
Lee finished the meet in third place with an all-around score of 31.125. Her score of 8.825 was good for first place in the vault. Brown’s all-around score of 30.20 finished fourth, including a fourth-place finish of 8.20 on the beam.
Next up for STMA is the Section 8AA tournament, which takes place Feb. 16 at St. Cloud Tech. Ramler said the team is looking forward to competing at sections.
“Our goal is to try and reach 121. We would like to try and beat Buffalo again,” Ramler said. “We’ve had a great season. We started with team scores of 113 and bumped that up to 121. Everyone is pulling their weight and with losing only one senior, I’m excited to coach this team next year.”