MINNEAPOLIS -- The classic saying is that when you fall off the horse, you gotta dust yourself off and get right back on.
The Worthington High School gymnastics team paid homage to the rule Friday at the Minnesota state Class A team competition. After the Trojans’ scores dipped in their two middle events -- the uneven parallel bars and the balance beam -- the girls put smiles back on their faces and performed a solid floor exercise.
Worthington’s final scores ranked them eighth in the eight-team competition. One less fall here, one less slip there, and the Section 3A champions would have eased ahead of Mankato West. So it goes.
“I think we got off to a good start and our middle two events were not good,” said WHS head coach Joni Reitmeier shortly before the final tabulations were counted.
Three of the Trojans’ middle performers fell on the beam. And then there were the uneven parallel bars -- an event in which one of the Trojans’ was forced to use someone else’s grips.
“Bars has always been our weaker event, and here where there are exceptional gymnasts, our routines just don’t compare to theirs. The degree of difficulty is different,” Reitmeier said.
Detroit Lakes set new Class A records in team score and bars Friday at the Sports Pavilion on the University of Minnesota campus. The Lakers, who scored a 38.150 on bars, had 151.675 points total. Melrose placed second with 149.425 points, followed by Austin with 147.175, Mahtomedi 144.375, Watertown-Mayer/Mound Westonka 143.250, Becker 142.025, Mankato West 139.025 and Worthington 138.700.
Worthington junior Maria Contreras broke her hand grips in warmups, which is a serious issue for the bars event. Every gymnast’s hand grips are molded to the specifications of the user, and any competitor who is unfamiliar with or lacks confidence in her grips stands a much higher chance of slipping. Contreras had to use a teammate’s grips on Friday.
“I went into a panic,” the Trojan junior said. “I was scared because I usually don’t use those kind of grips. I just had to suck it up for my team. It went well, actually.”
Contreras’ bars score was 8.100, second on her team. When she dismounted successfully, Reitmeier punched the air with her fist and the two of them embraced -- relieved as much as excited, perhaps.
“I’m super proud of her. That’s a lot of mental toughness shown by her,” Reitmeier said later. “She was able to have a pretty good routine.”
Worthington’s first event on Friday was the vault. The Trojans’ landings weren’t always perfect, but the vaults themselves were solid. Taylor Eggers led the way with a 9.225. McKenna Prunty had a 9.200, Contreras a 9.075 and Autumn Drahota an 8.825. Their total score was a 36.325.
But they slumped to a 32.275 on bars. Eggers slipped to the mat halfway through her routine and didn’t figure in the count. Prunty had an 8.400, Contreras 8.100, Gracia Elias 7.975 and Kara Thuringer 7.8.
The Trojans’ balance beam score was 33.925, like their bars score the lowest in the competition. Contreras scored an 8.975, Elias 8.550, Eggers 8.475 and Abby Bristow 7.925.
Recovery was sweet on the floor exercise, as Eggers paced the team with a 9.150. Prunty scored a 9.125, Contreras a 9.025 and Thuringer an 8.875.
“We ended strong,” Reitmeier said. “We kind of picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off and had pretty good floor routines.”
Friday marked the third consecutive state tournament berth for the Trojans, a remarkable feat in itself. Competing in the cavernous Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis is nothing like competing in the tiny and cramped Worthington armory -- the Trojans’ home floor. Even so, Reitmeier allowed that the Section 3A champs were hoping for a little bit more at the Pavilion, which has almost become a home away from home.
“We had hoped to come and do our best. And I’m not sure we accomplished that. It’s gymnastics. You never know what you’re going to get any day,” Reitmeier said. “We’re still a young team.”
Today is another day. At 11 a.m. in the Pavilion, Worthington will send Eggers, Contreras and Elias into the individual portion of the tournament. Also performing will be Jackson County Central standouts Abby Schneekloth and Brooklyn Schuett.