Gymnastics successful at consecutive meets

Allison Mueller

Emma Cavanaugh / Winonan

It was a busy two weeks of competition for the Winona State University gymnastics team, as the Warriors had a mere four days of recovery between their home meet Friday, Feb. 17 and the following match against the Hamline University Pipers on Tuesday, Feb. 21. The Best of Minnesota meet followed on Sunday, Feb. 26.

The team won the dual meet against the Pipers with an overall score of 184.575. Despite the win, it is one of the lowest scores the team has received since the start of the season.

“It’s a pretty intense week of competition,” head coach Beckie Rolbiecki said. “Physically, this is the part of the season where the bodies become fatigued and the season is waning on. So, this is a tough week for us to get to.”

The Warrior gymnasts dominated the balance beam against Hamline, with first-year Sunny Hasebe, junior Eboni Jackson, and first-year Kelly Johnston taking the top three spots. Hasebe scored a 9.525, with Jackson and Johnston following with scores of 9.250 and 9.500.

“We stayed strong as a team even though there were a couple of errors, and really pulled together and kept the energy levels up,” first-year Kennedy Utz said.

Utz took a second-place finish at Hamline on the vault with a score of 9.425.

Rolbiecki said, “Tuesday wasn’t our greatest meet. There were a lot of good things that happened, but it certainly wasn’t what I anticipated. We beat Hamline by a point. But yet I’m not disappointed, because when I look at what we did well and what we didn’t do well, most of our mistakes were fluke things, things that will never happen again.”

Following the Hamline meet, Winona State competed in the Best of Minnesota meet on Sunday against Hamline, University of Minnesota Gophers and the Gustavus Adolphus College Lions at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. The meet was beneficial as a recruiting meet, as it is well attended by prospective high school gymnasts.

“They’re looking way more forward to this meet. It’s the culmination of having a fun home meet, then surviving Tuesday, then going to this meet with the grandstand of 3,000 people watching at the U of M. It’s a big meet for us, it’s a high-energy meet; it’s a lot of fun,” Rolbiecki said.

The Warriors took home second place with a score of 188.025. As for individual standouts, Jackson tied for third place on vault with a score of 9.650. Tying for seventh, Hasebe took 9.500 on bars. On beam, two Winona gymnasts took fifth and sixth: sophomore Natalie Koehler scored 9.600 Johnston followed with a score of 9.575.

Rolbiecki said the team expected the Best of Minnesota meet to be fun.

“The camaraderie between the teams is really fun. We all look forward to it, and it’s probably the favorite of our meets each year,” she said. “It’s a bigger arena, high energy. There’s a great crowd and it’s a great recruiting arena, because of the cities. Historically, we’ve done very well at that meet.”

Regionals is now two meets away, and the Warriors continue to look ahead.

“As a whole team we are cleaning up small things, staying healthy. We are all very excited for the opportunity to compete at regionals at home,” Utz said.

The Warriors will compete at home against the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse on Thursday, March 2 at 6:30pm in McCown Gym for parents’ weekend and senior night.

By Emma Cavanaugh