GYMNASTICS: High vault score leads WHS past PAWORTHINGTON — Anna Koepsell wasn’t watching her competition. Instead, the Worthington freshman was focusing on her next event during Friday’s gymnastics meet.
By: Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Anna Koepsell wasn’t watching her competition.
Instead, the Worthington freshman was focusing on her next event during Friday’s gymnastics meet.
After scoring an 8.75 on her beam routine, Koepsell thought she had a good chance of placing in the top three.
“Once I got off the beam I thought I had a good score and would at least place,” Koepsell said. “But maybe I wouldn’t because Pipestone hadn’t competed yet.”
While Pipestone Area was competing on the beam, Koepsell and the Trojans were busy with their floor exercise.
There, with a team score of 35.125, WHS finished with 132.95 total points in Friday’s meet. The Arrows finished with 127.775.
And despite a good showing by the PA gymnasts on the beam, Koepsell’s score held as she secured a first-place finish for the first time all season.
“Last meet I fell off on two of my jumps, so this time I practiced really hard, so I could stick my routine and get a good score,” Koepsell said. “That’s what happened.”
Worthington, which improves to 5-0 in the conference, scored a 36 on the vault — the second highest score in school history.
“I’m so proud of the girls,” WHS head coach Joni Reitmeier said. “It’s helpful when you have three nines and strong eights to come after that. When you take the top four and three of those are nines, that’s awesome. We just hope to keep capitalizing on that strong event.”
Tara Svalland (9.3), Paige Kinley (9.1) and Taylor Erwin (9.0) placed first, second and third, respectively, for WHS on the vault.
Erwin built off her vault to have a solid night for WHS. But Friday’s meet was special for another reason for the Trojan senior — it was the last home meet of her career.
Wanting to compete well in front of home fans for the final time, and in preparation for sections, Erwin was adding new difficulties to her bars routine.
“I was really nervous because I was going to try giants for the first time on the bars,” she said. “I didn’t really get them at practice and I was trying them by myself (Friday). That kind of got me a little shaky.”
After scoring an 8 on the bars, those nerves carried over to her beam routine as well.
“I was scared that my beam and everything else was going to turn out like my bars — not very good,” she said.
Midway through her routine, the senior started to tire.
“On the beam I was a little more confident, but once I got halfway through, I started getting really tired,” Erwin said. “I just started shaking a lot. As I was standing there waiting to do my dismount, I could feel my legs and my hands shaking. I was kind of scared to go because I didn’t want to hurt myself.”
Trying to dismount, Erwin took a rough fall, rolling off the mat and into a practice beam.
“I just fell off the mat and rolled into the other beam,” she said. “I was really shaky when I was up there. I kind of had a feeling it was coming.
“But I was too frustrated for it to hurt.”
After a moment in the locker room, Erwin was back with a vengeance.
“I just need to go by myself and breathe,” she said. “It’s easier for me to get over it quicker if I just take my time and let it all out.”
With her final home routine of her career approaching, Erwin was determined to end on a positive note.
Scoring a 9.05, she did just that.
Erwin claimed first on the floor and with a 34.125 total score, won the all-around title as well.
“I’m happy,” the senior said. “I’m glad the way it ended. We still have one more meet and then we have sections and I’m hoping to make it to state.”
On the bars, PA’s Amber Haupert scored an 8.1 to take first, while Svalland and Kinley tied for second with an 8.075. Erwin finished third.
Koepsell’s 8.75 solidified her first-place finish on the beam.
“She is an excellent beam worker, obviously,” Reitmeier said. “She shines a lot on that event and when she’s on, she’s on. I’m very proud that she could come up with the stick after everybody had a rough night. That just shows she’s getting more mature, she’s getting more comfortable with herself and her confidence level is usually pretty high on the balance beam.”
Haupert (8.65) and Maggie Perkin (8.225) finished second and third for the Arrows on the beam.
“Our girls stayed on the beam better than we had been,” PA head coach Warren Bailey said. “We usually fall all over the place on the beam. On the bars, we need to have more difficulty, but bars is hard. We just have to keep working on it.
“We work every night on beam. We worked a little bit harder because we had so many falls a week ago against Marshall.”
On the floor, Svalland finished second with an 8.875, while Kinley was third with an 8.8.
Haupert was second in the all-around with a score of 34.05, while Svalland was third with a 33.275.
PA will face Redwood Valley on Thursday.
WHS will travel to Jackson for a triangular with the Huskies and Windom/Mountain Lake on Tuesday night.
“Jackson always brings out the best in Worthington and vice versa,” Reitmeier said. “Hopefully we’re going to see something really spectacular. Win or lose, I think we’re going to see a real good meet.”