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Section 3A gymnastics: Worthington qualifies for fourth straight state tournament

The 2017-18 Worthington Trojans stand with big smiles as they hold the Section 3A gymnastics championship trophy. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)1 / 3
Worthington's Abby Bristow bends back before she starts a tumbling run during her floor exercise on Saturday. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)2 / 3
Brooklyn Schuett of Jackson County Central flips during her routine on beam during Section 3A competition at Luverne High school. Schuett achieved first place in the all-around. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)3 / 3

LUVERNE -- Now, the Trojans can talk about the number four.

Until Saturday, “four” was unofficially off-limits as a topic of conversation as the Worthington Trojans gymnastics team prepared for the 2018 Section 3A tournament. But on Saturday, the girls captured another section team championship at Luverne High School, earning their fourth consecutive state tournament berth.

“It never gets old. It feels absolutely amazing,” said junior Taylor Eggers, who won the vaulting competition and placed third in the all-around.

“I don’t think there was much pressure. We just went out there and did our thing,” said senior teammate Maria Contreras, who placed first on the balance beam.

The Trojans posted 143.1 points in the sectional meet, earning them a ticket to the Minnesota state Class A tournament next Friday and Saturday at the Maturi Pavilion at the University of Minnesota. Team Class A competition begins Friday at 11 a.m. Individual Class A competition begins at the same time on Saturday.

Worthington’s longtime main rival, Jackson County Central, placed second at the section meet with 141.65 points. Hendricks/Russell-Tyler-Ruthton was third with 134.925, followed by Martin County Area with 133.625, Redwood Valley 130.8, Luverne 126.075, Marshall 125.55, Windom/Mountain Lake 122.025 and Pipestone Area 114.95.

“We definitely had to battle for it. It still feels amazing,” said WHS head coach Joni Reitmeier after the awards ceremony. “I think every time is a little bit different. This one, I definitely knew it was close going into floor (exercise). We had some things on vault not go our way, and definitely a few falls (three) on balance beam. We definitely knew we had to perform well (on floor). I didn’t exactly know what we needed, but I knew we had to do well.”

Worthington’s first event was vault, followed by the uneven parallel bars, balance beam and floor exercise. Contreras had two rough landings on her vault attempts, but she recovered to place second overall on bars (8.575), won the beam (9.425) and placed fifth on floor (9.25). Teammate Abby Bristow tied for second place on the floor exercise, with a 9.35.

Contreras said she didn’t perform her layout stepout on the beam, and it proved to be a good decision. “I felt good. I just played it safe and it paid off,” she said.

Eggers placed first in the vaulting event with a 9.350. She was third on bars (8.575) and fourth on beam (9.15) and turned in a third-place 35.875 score in the all-around which qualified her for state in that event.

“Going into the meet, I was pretty confident. Then in the meet, the nerves kind of caught up to me. But I didn’t let it bother me,” Eggers said. “I didn’t have my best day, but I’m pretty happy with the outcome. I can’t complain.”

The top three all-arounders earned berths in the state tournament. The top three girls in the other events who hadn’t already qualified based on their all-around totals, also earned state berths.

For Worthington, Eggers, Contreras and Bristow qualified.

Jackson County Central also qualified three. Brooklyn Schuett, a senior, was first overall in the all-around with a 36.15. Teammate Abby Schneekloth, another senior, was second with a 35.875. Schuett was third on vault (9.3) and fifth on beam (9.125), adding to her first-place 9.5 on floor. Schneekloth was second on vault (9.3) and third on beam (9.2). The other Husky qualifying for state was Hailey Handevidt (sixth on vault, with 9.05; and second on beam, with 9.275).

Schuett was outstanding after having struggled in recent previous meets with her floor routine.

“I feel very accomplished,” she said. “After falling the last two weeks on the floor, I finally stuck it. I couldn’t figure out my pass, but I finally got it today.”

At the conclusion of the competition, JCC head coach Cheryl Bass -- who was unable to attend the meet due to a suspension she has been under -- was named the Section 3A Head Coach of the Year to a warm ovation. The suspension has caused JCC to have to perform without Bass for the last three meets, which was difficult, Schuett said.

“That was very hard on us. We didn’t know what to do,” said the section’s top all-arounder.

And yet, the Huskies rallied. Schuett said Saturday’s sectional felt like “one of the best meets we’ve ever had.”

Here are the top six scores from Saturday, by event. The scores with an (X) by them indicate state qualifiers:

VAULT: 1. Taylor Eggers, Worthington, 9.350 (X); 2. Abby Schneekloth, JCC, 9.3 (X); 3. Brooklyn Schuett, JCC, 9.3 (X); 4. Sophie Johnson, Hendricks/R-T-R, 9.125 (X); 5. Emma Stevenson, Redwood Valley, 9.1 (X); 6. Hailey Handevidt, JCC, 9.05 (X).

BARS: 1. Greta Johnson, Hendricks/R-T-R, 8.75 (X); 2. Maria Contreras, Worthington, 8.575 (X); 3. Taylor Eggers, Worthington, 8.575 (X); 4. Saphi McFarquhar, Marshall, 8.55 (X); 5. Gracia Elias, Worthington, 8.5; 6. Sophie Johnson, Hendricks/R-T-R, 8.4.

BEAM: 1. Maria Contreras, Worthington, 9.425 (X); 2. Hailey Handevidt, JCC, 9.275 (X); 3. Abby Schneekloth, JCC, 9.2 (X); 4. Taylor Eggers, Worthington, 9.15 (X); 5. Brooklyn Schuett, JCC, 9.125 (X); Saphi McFarquhar, Marshall, 9.05 (X).

FLOOR: 1. Brooklyn Schuett, JCC, 9.5 (X); 2. (tie) Abby Bristow, Worthington, 9.35 (X); 2 (tie) Sophie Johnson, Hendricks/R-T-R, 9.35; 4. Sabrina Segar, Martin County Area, 9.3 (X); 5. Maria Contreras, Worthington, 9.25; 6. Greta Johnson, Hendricks/R-T-R, 9.25.

ALL-AROUND: 1. Brooklyn Schuett, JCC, 36.15 (X); 2. Abby Schneekloth, JCC, 35.875 (X); 3. Taylor Eggers, Worthington, 35.875 (X); 4. Maria Contreras, Worthington, 35.8; 5. Gracia Elias, Worthington, 35.45; 6. Sophie Johnson, Hendricks/R-T-R, 35.375.

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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