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Gymnastics: Trojans, JCC to make another run for state

WORTHINGTON -- They established a new school record 144.325 points, they represented the section in the state True Team meet, they beat arch-rival Jackson County Central on their home floor only a week ago, and now the Worthington Trojans have their sights set on the Section 3A tournament.

The Trojans, seeking a return trip to the Minnesota state Class A meet set for Feb. 24 at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion, compete alongside eight other teams Saturday at Windom Area High School in sectional competition. Flips, spins and tumbles begin at noon.

The top four individuals also qualify for state.

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t believe Worthington is the odds-on favorite to finish on top in the team tourney. But then, you can never count on anything at a high school gym meet, and there are other teams who’ve got a fair shot.

Jackson County Central is one. The Huskies, led by Abby Schneekloth, Brooklyn Schuett and Hailey Handevidt, have put up good scores throughout the season and have a history of hitting the mark in big meets. Martin County Central senior Bryanna Peterson is an outstanding competitor and recently scored a superlative 37.675 all-around score. Hendricks, which tallied back-to-back scores of 139.9 and 138.7 in a pair of early-February duals, is another team to watch.

In the Big South Conference championship on Saturday, Worthington placed first with 142.825 points followed by JCC (140.35), Martin County Area (138.925) and New Ulm (136.275).

JCC head coach Cheryl Bass says it’s a solid sectional field.

“It’s going to be a tough meet. It’s going to be a fun meet,” Bass said Thursday. “I think the big thing is, it’s going to be who can be on that day.”

Little missteps can loom large. Too many slips on the balance beam can ruin anyone’s plans.

“It definitely can make or break a lot of teams,” Bass said.

A year ago, Worthington eclipsed JCC 139.7 to 139.15 in the section tournament for its second consecutive state team berth. To turn that around this year, said Bass, the Huskies will need to get off to a good start.

“We didn’t have the best start (last year), and for a few of our girls, they had a hard time to get it back together,” she recalled.

Schneekloth, Schuett and Handevidt have been performing well this winter for JCC (Schneekloth and Handevidt qualified for state as individuals last year). Worthington’s Maria Contreras, Taylor Eggers and McKenna Prunty qualified for state as individuals last season, and all three return to make a run in 2017.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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