Park gymnastics: Wolfpack hours away from 14th state meet appearanceThe Park gymnastics team will look to win its first state championship since 2004 when it hits the mat tonight at the 2011-12 state meet.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
The Park gymnastics team will look to win its first state championship since 2004 when it hits the mat tonight at the 2011-12 state meet. It will be Park’s 14th overall appearance at the state meet.
Last week Park scored a 144.45 and edged Suburban East Conference and district 833 rival East Ridge to earn the Section 3AA championship and a second-straight state meet berth.
Park took third place in last year’s state meet with a season-high 149.825. Park returned seven of its top eight gymnasts from last year’s team and seemed destined for greater things this season.
However, with a number of key gymnasts sidelined with injuries, Park limped through the 2011-12 season, hitting a low less than a month ago, losing to Mounds View 135.8 to 122.9 on Thursday, Jan. 26.
But, at the section championships, key gymnasts Kasondra Tulloch, Rachel Deephouse and Sarah LaBrosse returned to the mat to help Wolfpack put together its best performance of the season.
In Class AA, five teams, including the two-time defending champions from Northfield, return from the 2011 field. The Raiders return seven gymnasts from last year’s team. In addition to Northfield, four other teams also return from the 2011 field: Park and last year’s runner up Roseville, along with Cambridge-Isanti, which took fourth; and St. Cloud Tech, which took sixth. The other qualifying teams are Lakeville North, Stillwater and Minnetonka.
The meet will be held at the Sports Pavilion on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. Team competition is scheduled for Friday, with Class AA competition beginning at 6 p.m. The identical time schedule will be followed for Saturday's individual and all-around events, with Class AA beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets for the meet are available at the Sports Pavilion. Adult tickets cost $12 per session and student tickets cost $8 per session.
In the individual portion of the state meet, two champions return to defend their titles. Meaghan Howell of Northfield is looking for her second consecutive title on the uneven bars and Julia Stedman of North St. Paul, is seeking another title in the floor exercise. In all, 15 of 30 event medal-winners in 2011 will return for 2012 Class AA individual competition.
Park’s Tulloch and Stedman are the only returning medalists in the all-around competition. They placed second and fourth, respectively, in 2011.
Stedman, who earned runner-up honors in the vault in 2011, is the highest returning medal-winner in that event. Three other medalists also return; Mackenzie Dent of Eden Prairie, third; Leah Robinette of East Ridge, fourth; and Tulloch, who took fifth. Emily Guimont of Edina is the only returning medalist in the balance beam. She placed third last year. Four medal-winners, including defending champion Meaghan Howell of Northfield, return on the uneven bars. The others are: Tulloch, runner-up; Robinette, fourth; and Kellie Dougherty of White Bear Lake, fifth. Stedman, who captured the top honor last year, is the highest returning medalist in the floor exercise. Three other medal-winners also return: Deephouse, who took third; Dent, fourth; and Tulloch, sixth.