Park gymnastics: Wolfpack finishes fourth in state meet with season-best 146.05The Wolfpack matched its finish from last year, earning fourth place in its third consecutive Class AA state meet on Friday, Feb. 22, at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavillion, scoring a season-best 146.05.
By: Patrick Johnson, sports editor, South Washington County Bulletin
The Park gymnastics team went out on a high note, but didn’t bring home any hardware.
The Wolfpack matched its finish from last year, earning fourth place in its third consecutive Class AA state meet on Friday, Feb. 22, at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavillion, scoring a season-best 146.05.
“One thing you want to do as a coach is to have the kids peak at the right time,” Park head coach Mark Sikich said. “We made our mistakes, but I was incredibly proud of the kids’ efforts and what we did here today. They did a great job. “
Roseville narrowly won the Class AA state championship – its second in a row and sixth in the past eight seasons – with a score of 149.7, edging second-place Northfield (149.325) and third-place St. Cloud Tech (149.150) in a meet that came down to the final event.
“I’m so proud of the girls,” said Morgan Schank, a team captain and one of five seniors on Park’s roster. “We went out and did what we could do. We didn’t win, but we won in my heart. It’s the best feeling being on this team. They’re the greatest team ever. I love them.”
In addition to Park’s five seniors, the state meet caps the gymnastics coaching career for Sikich, who has been a coach for 31 years.
“Competing at the state meet is such a great experience,” he said. “The kids want to come back every year. That is what I hope continues with these young ladies. For me, it’s bittersweet, because it’s my last one. But, the way we competed, I can’t be more proud of the kids.”
Park earned a third-straight trip to state with a 145.65 score and a first-place finish at sections. Park finished third in the state in the 2010-11 season and fourth last year.
McKay Zurn, a senior and team captain, said it was an emotional night, saying she came to tears toward the end of her floor routine – the Wolfpack’s final event.
“I feel good, because I think we accomplished a lot of our goals throughout the season,” she said. “We couldn’t ask for much more. We accomplished so much this season and I’m so proud of everyone. We shed a lot of tears and blood and sweat and we ended up here.”
With Roseville and Northfield being strong favorites heading into the meet, Park needed to be nearly perfect to pull off an upset. After a solid start on vault, a shaky routine on bars hurt the Wolfpack.
On the bright side, Park had by far the top score of any team in the floor exercise with a 38.3. Park also took fourth in the vault (37.325) and fourth in the balance beam (36.0) along with finishing sixth on the uneven bars (34.425).
“Even if we were flawless and scored two points higher it still wouldn’t have even gotten us third place, because everyone was over 149,” Sikich said. “It was just an incredible, high-level meet.”
Individually, Park senior Kasondra Tulloch stood out all night. Tulloch’s all-around score would’ve been a 38.3. Also, senior Rachel Deephouse scored a 9.750 in the floor exercise, which was the best score of the meet in the event. Tulloch had Park’s second-best score on the floor with a 9.675. In addition, Zurn scored a 9.4 and sophomore Sarah Schank had a 9.475 on the floor for the Wolfpack. In the vault, Tulloch led the way for Park with a 9.550, followed by junior Sarah LaBrosse with a 9.325, Deephouse with a 9.250, Sarah Schank with a 9.2 and junior Allie Minogue with a 9.1. On the beam, Tulloch had a team-best 9.350, Sarah Schank scored a 9.225 and Morgan Schank came through with an 8.925. On the bars, Tulloch had a 9.275 and Schank scored a 9.425.
Park is set to bring back 14 gymnasts from its roster next year. However, losing five seniors opens up 10 varsity spots on the Wolfpack.
“There are a lot of opportunities for the young ladies next year – the girls returning to the team and the new kids that are coming up,” Sikich said. “I hope the girls take away to never take anything for granted. You have to work harder each year to get here. It’s such an honor.”