Rebel gymnasts save best for sections

The goal was always to peak when it mattered most.

For the Champlin Park girls gymnastics team, it was realized in the Section 5AA finals Feb. 13.

But, in turning in a season-best overall team score of 133.425, reality also came into play.

Roseville, which has won five of the last seven state championships, is the gold standard on many levels in high school gymnastics, and it showed inside Park Center High School that night.

The Raiders became the first team in Minnesota this winter to surpass the 150-point mark in winning the 5AA team title with a score of 150.95.

Along the way, Roseville also claimed almost all of the individual state qualifying spots.

The performance cost the Rebels a chance at sending multiple gymnasts to state.

The top-four finishers on each apparatus, as well as the all-around, make it through to this weekend’s Class AA state meet.

Three from Roseville advanced in the vault, all four qualifying spots in the uneven bars went to the Raiders, two more went in the floor exercise, another three did the same on the balance beam, and each of the four all-around finishes also belonged to Roseville.

“They don’t make it easy on anyone else,” said Champlin Park head coach Jon Wynia. “With them in the section, it changes everything.”

Well, almost everything.

Champlin Park will be represented at the state meet, which runs Feb. 22 and 23 at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion.

Ninth-grader Taylor Guckeen earned one of the four qualifying spots on the balance beam after placing third in the section meet with a score of 9.4.

Senior Lexi Marquard, who was a state meet gymnasts her eighth-grade year, nearly joined Guckeen in the event after placing fifth with a score of 9.325.

To put that in perspective, Wynia said the last Champlin Park gymnasts to medal at state on the beam was the section champion with a score of 9.375.

“And Lexi misses with a 9.325,” Wynia said. “What do you do? Lexi was great, but great meant she was just short.”

The same could be said for the rest of the team. The girls compiled a 6-2 Northwest Suburban Conference record this year, which was good enough for third place behind Elk River/Rogers/Zimmerman and Centennial.

They were even better at sections.

Marquard cracked the top-10 in the vault and balance beam. Guckeen was top-10 in the balance beam, floor exercise and all-around.

Wynia also said seniors Somer and Cassidy Soli hit on a number of exercises they attempted, and in the end, that added up to the best performance the girls turned in the entire season.

“The phrase for the last part of the season was YOLO, which is the acronym for You Only Live Once,” Wynia said. “And then, we changed it to YOSO – You are Only a Senior Once. We had fun, and a lot of times we had good results. They lived up to that phrase. These girls had a great year.”

Contact Nick Clark at nick.clark@ecm-inc.com

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