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Prep gymnastics: WHS unbeaten, feeling confident

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Worthington senior Paige Kinley does her routine on the uneven bars, during their meet Friday night with Luverne

WORTHINGTON — Gymnastics fans lined up in a long row at the conclusion of Friday’s Southwest Conference meet in Worthington. They were anxious to have the Trojans sign their team photos on Meet the Trojans Night.

The Trojans deserved the attention. They defeated Luverne 136.1 to 124.95 at the local armory. It was one of the team’s highest point totals of the season and it advanced their record to 8-0.

Head coach Joni Reitmeier said it was a unique experience for her, personally, to have an undefeated team so late in the season. But she deflected all the credit to her athletes who, she said, work incredibly hard to support each other.

She could not single out an exceptional performer Friday night.

“To me, all five of them are superstars. And all our junior varsity girls are superstars, too,” she said. “I just thank them for letting me come along for the ride.”

There were, to be sure, several strong performances. The only senior on the team, Paige Kinley, won the uneven parallel bars event with an 8.375 and also the floor exercise with 9.175, tying for third on the vault (8.8) and placing third on balance beam (7.875) en route to a first-place finish in the all-around (34.225). Teammate Taylor Eggers placed second on the bars (7.975), second on balance beam (8.6) and placed second in the all-around with 34.025. Another Trojan, Liz Hayenga, won the balance beam with a 9.025 score and was second on vault (9.075) while scoring a third-best 33.675 in the all-around. And another Trojan, Maria Contreras, won the vault (9.175) and was third in the floor exercise (8.9) while scoring a fourth-best 33.275 in the all-around.

Trojan Whitney Jensen was second on the floor exercise with an 8.925 score.

Madison Schandelmeier had the highest performance for Luverne, getting a 7.825 for third place on the bars.

“We started out on bars. We had really good bar routines, and that always gets the kids’ confidence up,” said Reitmeier. By the time the Trojans finished up on the floor exercise — their strongest event — their confidence level was high, indeed.

Eggers, Kinley and Contreras each performed a “tsuk” on the vault, which is a half-on entry with a backflip off. It was not the first time the Trojans performed the move but it’s still new for them, and Reitmeier said that as a group it was the best tsuk effort of the season — Contreras’ especially.

Kinley hurt her ankle on the routine and spent half a minute trying to walk it off. But the “ankle biter,” as Reitmeier called it, didn’t seem to negatively affect the remainder of Kinley’s meet.

“Paige being a veteran, that doesn’t hold her off. She knows how to deal with it,” Reitmeier said.

Worthington has three Southwest Conference meets remaining on the schedule, and the last one — with perennial gym power Jackson County Central in Jackson on Feb. 3 — figures to be the toughest.

In B squad action Friday, Worthington topped Luverne 114.55 to 105.15. Firsts for Worthington were turned in by Claire Ludes in the vault (8.55), beam (6.9) and floor exercise (8.05). She won the all-around competition, too, with a 29.4. Trojan Rachel Spartz won the bars with a 6.5.

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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