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PREP GYMNASTICS: JCC clinches section title

BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE JCC's Sydnee Donnelli does a back flip during her floor routine Saturday afternoon at the Section 3A gymnastics meet in Worthington.1 / 3
BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE All eyes are on Trojan Tara Svalland as she dismounts from the balance beam during Saturday's Section 3A meet in Worthington.2 / 3
BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE Pipestone Area's Maggie Perkins performs on the balance beam during Saturday's section gymnastics meet at Worthington High School.3 / 3

WORTHINGTON -- After falling one place short of advancing to the state tournament in 2011, the Jackson County Central gymnastics team took first at the Section 3A tournament Saturday to advance this season.

The Huskies finished with a score of 140.825 to take the section championship. Worthington took second place with a 134.7, Martin Country Area finished third with a 134.3, Windom/Mountain Lake took fourth with a 126.925, Pipestone Area finished fifth with a 124.775, Luverne took sixth with a 121.675, Redwood Valley finished seventh with a 117.9, Saint James/Butterfield-Odin took eighth with a 112.625 and Marshall finished ninth with a 106.425.

"We performed very well," JCC junior Sydnee Donnelli said. "We had such a good showing at sections. It was really awesome to get it all together for this meet. It's very exciting to get to bring everyone to state. Finally, it's the first time in a very long time the team has made it. It's great."

Only the section champion advances to the state tournament to compete as a team. However, the top-4 finishers from each apparatus and the all-around competition also advance to the tournament to compete individually.

There was a tie for first place on the vault, with both Donnelli and WHS's Tara Svalland finishing with a 9.475. RV's Ashley Bunting took third with a 9.3 and MCA's Rebecca Steen finished fourth with a 9.2.

On the bars, JCC's Brandi Sether-Hassing finished first with a 9.275. MCA's Steen took second with a 9.025, JCC's Donnelli took third with an 8.95 and JCC's Adriane Rentschler took fourth with an 8.6

MCA's Steen took first on the balance beam with an 8.775. WHS's Svalland took second with an 8.55, JCC's Donnelli took third with an 8.525 and JCC's Rentschler won a tie-breaker over WHS's Anna Koepsell to clinch the final state spot and finish fourth with an 8.5.

"The girls did really really good," WHS head coach Joni Reitmeier said. "It was kind of heartbreaker to see that Anna tied for fourth and unfortunately they had to break the tie and it went the other way. That's always hard when you earn the same score but don't get the same prize. Overall though, all the girls competed very well. I'm very happy."

MCA's Steen took first on the floor routine as well, finishing with a 9.4. WHS's Svalland took second with a 9.375, JCC's Sether-Hassing took third with a 9.225 and JCC's Donnelli took fourth with a 9.125.

In the all-around competition, MCA's Steen took the crown with an overall score of 36.450. JCC's Donnelli took second with a 36.075, JCC's Sether-Hassing took third with a 35.7 and WHS's Svalland took fourth with a 35.450.

"I'm excited. I'm always happy to make it to state. I've been going every year since seventh grade," Donnelli said. "I'm really happy about my vault, that was probably my top event. And I'm really proud of everything else. I did great in everything, I think. I had a pretty good day."

The Trojans will only be sending Svalland to the state tournament for the second year in a row.

But the junior, who competed in vault and floor last year, will be adding beam and all-around to her state tournament repetoire.

"It's very exciting," Svalland said. "My strengths would be vault and floor. I stuck my beam, which was good. It was a nerve-racking day, but I made it.

"And as a team, we were hoping for second or first place overall, so we're happy with second. We had a great meet. We're happy with ourselves. It's exciting to have medals and a plaque now."

Other awards given at the section tournament included coaches of the year and the academic team of the year.

The Huskies took the academic title, with at least 60 percent of their participants earning a 3.8 GPA or higher.

The assistant coach of the year title was given to W/ML's Jordan Bussa and the head coach of the year title was given to JCC's Tammy Handevidt.

But Handevidt wasn't talking about her achievement after the meet, she was praising her girls for winning the championship and advancing to the state tournament.

"Oh, absolutely I am pleased with how they did today," Handevidt said. "They did amazing and it was so good to see all their hard work come through.

"We just wanted to perform as strong as we could and ultimately make it to the state tournament as a team. I'm so happy to see the girls achieve this goal of winning the championship at sections. I'm very proud of them."

Daily Globe Sports Reporter Jocelyn Syrstad can be reached at 376-7335.