Rockets and Tigers vie again in Delano
BY DAVE PEDERSEN
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
Delano and Rockford have set their sights at peaking for the Section 5A gymnastics meet Thursday, Feb. 14 at Delano.
Both teams can declare they are on target and are hoping rise to new heights when it counts the most. The neighbors gave each other a sneak preview of each other when competing in a non-conference dual meet last week. Delano won 132.65 to 121.25 when not yet still on top of their games.
The sound of “that’s better” could have been declared in other action last week for the two schools. Delano was a hair shy of a season high score against Litchfield, posting 135.7 when the high water mark was 136.4.
Rockford competed at Saturday’s Granite Ridge Conference championships and finally got over the 121-point barrier with a 124.325. Even the Rocket junior varsity scored its highest at 103.5, reaching a goal of clearing 100.
Delano is a favorite to return to state after a year’s absence as a team. Plus, individuals with state meet experience hope for another shot.
Against Litchfield, Delano claimed the top two all-around scores with Amelia Sutherland at 34.5 and Anna Wischmann at 34.225. The good news for coach Jamie Greenberg was the return of Sutherland to all four events. An injury had kept her off two events in recent weeks.
Another good sign was how Cassie Moe was third in the all-around against Rockford and fourth at Litchfield, showing a sign if depth. Moe had filled in on varsity early on before beginning to be consistent on all events.
Wischmann captured first on vault and uneven bars, plus was second on floor exercise against Litchfield. Sutherland took first on floor, second on beam and bars and tied for third on vault.
Varsity newcomer Alexus Aquirre placed third on vault and bars and fourth on balance beam. Andi Joe Shrode is another strong all-arounder who won on beam at Litchfield.
Wischmann and Sutherland again were a close one-two in the all-around against Rockford. Wischmann took first on vault and floor, third on bars and fourth on beam. Sutherland captured second place in all four events. Shrode again won balance beam and Aquirre was third on vault.
Rockford gymnasts did crack the top four spots against Delano, led by Madisyn Bartlett, fourth in the all-around. She also was fourth on floor.
Brianna Schumacher earned first place on uneven bars, Heidi Trandahl was fourth on bars, Mikayla Erickson placed third on beam and Rachel Selly finished third on floor.
The Rockets have been consistent, scoring 121 points at six meets this season, before jumping to 124 Saturday. Coach Jessica Johnson sees that as the start of something bigger and gives some good reasons why.
“Madisyn Bartlett competes in the all-around and has raised her scores considerably since the first half of the season,” said Johnson. “She continues to work on more and more difficult skills to up her score. Madisyn has beautiful form and her jumps are simply amazing.”
Erickson competes in vault, beam and floor and her beam routine has scored in the low 9’s. Johnson says she placed fifth on balance beam last year at sections and is determined to get to state this year. She was ninth at the conference meet.
Hailie McLearen has been slowed by a nagging ankle injury, but Johnson believes her beam routine is peaking at the right time.
Amber Sahli is another all-arounder who earned All-Conference honorable mention for being consistent in all events. Skylar Young will compete at sections on bars.
Schumacher specializes on bars, where, “Bri is simply outstanding,” said Johnson. “She placed first against Delano with a season-best score and was sixth at the conference meet, earning honorable mention honors.”
Rachel Selly took a rough fall on beam early in the season and is starting to get her big skills back, adds Johnson. Plus, a revised vault could push her score to the upper 8’s and her floor routine cleared the 8 mark at the league meet.
Finally, a big surprise has been the rise of Heidi Trandahl, a seventh-grader working on vault, bars and floor. Johnson said Trandahl has a special gift for the vault, where she placed fourth against Delano.
“As a coach, I can always count her to perform consistent with previous performances, but it is usually better than the previous,” adds Johnson about Trandahl. “She likes to climb up mountains.”