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Third time's a charm: WHS's Svalland heads to state for the 3rd time and JCC qualifies as a team

WORTHINGTON -- Many could call Tara Svalland a state tournament veteran.

The junior has already been to the gymnastics state tournament as a representative of Worthington High School twice and this year she is heading to the Twin Cities again to compete for the third-straight year.

This year, Svalland will be competing on three apparatuses -- vault, floor and beam -- as well as vying for the Class A all-around title.

"It's my first year on beam and all-around, so that's really exciting," Svalland said. "I'm making progress each year I go."

Last season, Svalland competed in vault and floor. She placed sixth on the vault, earning a medal and finished 24th on floor.

She also competed in vault as a freshman in 2010, finishing 11th.

This year, Svalland and Jackson County Central junior Sydnee Donnelli are the only two returning medalists competing on vault in Class A. Donnelli finished one place above Svalland last year, earning a fifth-place medal.

"I just want to improve my vault as far as medals go," Svalland said. "And I want to try to place on floor this year and just do as good as I can on beam and all-around."

Svalland has finished among the top in the all-around category in every meet she has competed in this season.

She is confident going into state and her coach said she's not worried about nerves getting the best of Svalland this weekend.

"Tara, this is her third year going to state, so she's seasoned in it, so to say," WHS head coach Joni Reitmeier said. "I think our biggest thing is to tweak those routines as best to our ability and go to state and hope to perform to the best of her abilities and see what happens.

"She knows what to expect when we go there. So hopefully she rises to the occasion and show the state of Minnesota what she's got."

Huskies heading to state

JCC will also advance to the state tournament as a team.

The team finished the season going 13-2 and won the Section 3A tournament last weekend with a score of 140.825.

The Huskies haven't competed at state as a team in a number of years, but they do have some girls with state experience under their belts.

Donnelli, now a junior, has qualified for the state tournament since 2008 when she was a seventh grader.

Last season was Donnelli's best showing at State. She finished 13th in the all-around, fifth on the vault and 17th on the bars.

Brandi Sether-Hassing, also a junior, has qualified every year since 2009 and Adriane Rentschler, a junior, qualified last year.

All three will participate in both the individual and team competition this year.

"I'm excitied. I'm always happy to make it to state," Donnelli said. "I'm just really excited about everything. Our team really deserves this."

And while several individuals have State experience, the Huskies' haven't made it to the tournament as a team since any of the current team members have been on the team. So it will be a new experience for many as well.

"I just want to go up there and give the best performance that we possibly can and just enjoy every second of it," JCC head coach Tammy Handevidt said. "It's very exciting. It doesn't get any better than taking the whole team with us."

As far as individuals go, Donnelli will be competing in every category. Sether-Hassing will compete in all-around, floor and bars. And Rentschler will compete on bars and beam.

And all seven JCC gymnasts will work toward a Class A team title on Friday.

"I just want to perform as well as I'm capable of," Donnelli said. "I want to show everyone not only what I have, but what our team can bring as well. I'm hoping to keep rising and make it one step higher than I have in the past. I think it will be pretty good. I'm excited. Nervous, but excited."

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