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Park gymnastics: Score continues rise as team tops Cretin

Sammy Johnson and the Park varsity and JV gymnastics teams both beat Cretin-Derham Hall last week. Johnson, shown here on the bars, tied for the top spot in the JV competition in the vault with an 8.6 score.

When the Park gymnastics team scored a 129.15 in its first meet of the year, Wolfpack head coach Mark Sikich believed the score to be a good starting point for his youthful team to improve upon.

Looks like he was right, because as the year goes on, Park's score continues to climb.

The Wolfpack turned out its second highest point total of the year on Thursday, in a 139.425 to 137.375 win over Suburban East Conference foe Cretin-Derham Hall.

Park's high score this year is a 139.6, which it earned three weeks ago at the Wolfpack Invitational.

However, Park head coach Mark Sikich believes his team can add two or three more points to its score by year's end.

"They're doing great," Sikich said. "The kids are doing new stuff, they're definitely trying hard and they're getting better. It's exciting and a little sad at the same time, because I wish we would have been at this point a month ago. Consistency is the thing we need to continue to work on."

Against Cretin-Derham Hall, Park's best event was the floor exercise, where freshman Baylee Erickson scored the Wolfpack's high score of the year with a 9.4 that earned her the top spot at the meet.

Also earning a first-place finish against the Raiders was junior Ali McDowell. McDowell, who is continuing to improve from a leg injury, had a 9.275 score on the bars, which is a season high for her.

"Ali is putting it together and finally had a very nice set," Sikich said. "I told her we're just going to get better and better from there."

Another season-high mark came from seventh-grader Kelly McKenzie, who finished with her top finish of the year in the all-around competition with a 35.2 score -- good for second place in the meet. Cretin's Bri Jackson was first with a 36.1 score.

"That young lady is getting better and better as we go on," Sikich said. "There is no doubt about that."

In the JV competition, Park again proved its depth, dominating the Raiders 128.75 to 109.15 on the night.

Again, the floor exercise was Park's area of expertise, as the Wolfpack took the top six spots in the event, led by sophomore Jessie Malin with an 8.35 score.

Park also went 1-2-3 in the vault and on the bars in the JV competition, while taking the top four spots on the beam. On the vault, freshman Jordan Arganbright and sophomore Sammy Johnson tied for the top spot with 8.6 scores. On the bars, freshman Hayley Van Pelt led the way with an 8.2 score. McDowell won the JV beam competition with an 8.15 score, while eighth-grader McKay Zurn and junior Alissa Munger tied for second with 8.05 scores.

The Wolfpack will take part in its last regular season meet of the year on Thursday, Feb. 12 when it travels to Woodbury. Saturday, the team will take part in the JV championships at Forest Lake. The Section 3AA championships will be held Friday, Feb. 20 at Woodbury High School.

"We're starting to come on," coach Sikich said. "They're starting to transfer our work ethic from practice over to meets. It's just that consistency that we need to work on in order to score our potential."


Park vs. Cretin-Derham Hall

Thursday, Feb. 5 at Park High School

(varsity competition)

-- Alissa Munger, jr., vault: 8.975, third place; bars: 8.375, fifth place.

-- Kelly McKenzie, seventh grade, vault: 8.775, fourth; bars: 8.575, fourth; beam: 8.85, second; floor: 9.0, fourth; all-around: 35.2, second.

-- Tessa Sikich, soph., vault: 8.65, fifth; bars: 7.9, eighth; floor: 8.45, sixth.

-- Haylee VanPelt, fr., vault: 8.6, sixth; beam: 8.7, fourth; floor: 8.675, fifth.

-- Ashley Mann, soph., vault: 8.575, seventh.; beam: 8.85, second.

-- Ali McDowell, jr., bars: 9.275, first.

-- Baylee Erickson, fr., bars: 8.225, seventh; beam: 8.05, seventh; floor: 9.4, first.

-- Jordan Arganbright, fr., beam: 7.75, eighth.

-- McKay Zurn, eighth grade, floor: 8.45, sixth.