Gymnastics falls short in first dual of the year

Sydney Mohr, Features Editor

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The Warriors gymnastics team took a loss at their first dual of 2019 against Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri on Saturday, Jan. 20. Although they left with a loss, this meet set many personal season-high marks for individual members of the team.

Becky Rolbiecki, head coach of the gymnastics team, commented on the team overall and their performance before winter break.

“[The coaches] are really excited about the potential of this team. We are very young, as we graduated six seniors last year. We have a talented group of returners who have taken the lead in taking the new freshmen under their wings,” Rolbiecki said. “I was very impressed with our performance at the first meet of the year last weekend at the Best of Minnesota. We had a rocky start on beam but then put up strong performances on the other three events to finish with a great early score of 182.3. As a young team they handled the huge crowd and early season jitters very well.”

The meet started off on vault with an overall score of 46.175, and sophomore Shelsea Zehr earning the Warrior’s highest vault score with an average of 9.325. Lindenwood came out of vault with a score of 48.950.

Winona State’s second event of the night was bars. The overall score for bars fell shorter than the vault score at a 44.675, compared to Lindenwood’s 48.950 overall. Sophomore Alexis Burton took the highest score on bars of the six athletes for the Warriors with a score of 9.375. Burton was closely followed by Zehr and first-year Hailey Bryant, who both scored a 9.050 on bars.

The best and highest scoring event of the night was beam, where Winona State took an overall 46.600. Junior Kelly Johnston set a personal record for her year with a 9.625, the highest ranking score out of the Winona State athletes.  The Warrios ended up with a final score of 46.600, with four of the six athletes scoring above a 9.2 on the beam. Lindenwood scored a 48.550, with all of their athletes scoring above a 9.0.

The final event of the night was the floor, arguably one of Winona State’s best performing categories within tournaments. Junior Kennedy Utz ended the night with WSU’s highest score of 9.575, followed by first-year Kaitlyn West with a score of 9.450 and Zehr with a score of 9.425. One other WSU floor routine scored above a 9.1, and the other two above a 8.4. Lindenwood ended with a score of 48.700.

Overall, the loss was not by a large margin, as the final score was 194.550 to 183.950. No All-Arounders were recognized this meet for Winona State University.

Despite the loss, Rolbiecki is confident about her season and the team of girls she is training this year.

“We will definitely grow this year as we have a lot of new routines and skills that we are adding depth and strength to our line up with,” Roliecki said.

“The event squads are starting to find their identities and that helps the overall performance at each event. We do have several gymnasts that can challenge for the regular line up spots and I expect our line ups to change as we move through the season.”

Sophomore Anna Hiller spoke after the meet about the hardships the team has been facing in the start of spring semester.

“We have a lot of freshmen, many of which are coming back from injury so we haven’t even been able to use them yet,” Hiller said. “Once we get everyone out there I think we will see how far this team can go. Our goal this season, like every other season, is to qualify for nationals.”

Hiller hopes the team can advance to Nationals, and commented that there are possibilities of teammates scoring high enough to attend Nationals individually.

Winona State will compete again this weekend on Saturday, Jan. 26 against Gustavus Adolphus College and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater at 6:30 p.m. in Whitewater, Wisconsin.