MINNEAPOLIS -- Seeking their first state championship since 1995, the No. 1-ranked Melrose Dutchmen gymnastics team ended an eight-year Perham Yellowjacket streak taking the Minnesota Class A gymnastics championship out of Yellowjacket hands.
Perham, ranked No. 3 in Class A, finished in fourth place.
"Who would have ever expected us to be here," Perham Head Coach Charlie Fleck said.
With one senior, one freshman and the remainder of the team comprised of seventh and eighth graders, expectations were not as high for Perham gymnastics this season, but a streak of eight-straight championships adds an amount a pressure outside of realistic plausibility.
"We're not changing our goals," said Fleck. "We still want to win."
Much of that pressure fell squarely on the shoulders of lone Yellowjacket senior Satera Montella.
When asked if she felt that pressure she enunciated an, "Ohhh, yeah," with a sense of relief after Friday's competition.
"I'm ready for it to be over, but at the same time I'm going to miss it a lot," said Montella.
Melrose put up untouchable gold medal numbers totaling 147.500 distancing themselves by over two points from second place.
No. 2-ranked New Prague and No. 4 Big Lake battled it out for second place finishing only 0.125 points apart.
New Prague backed up their ranking scoring 145.425 to Big Lake's 145.3.
Perham finished with a fourth-place score of 143.775.
Perham's path to repeating as champions was made even more difficult when Adrienne Meyer injured her knee in warm-ups and was out of action before the meet started.
Unofficial reports were of ACL and MCL damage. She watched the meet in a cast.
The injury opened the door for seventh-grader Madison Peichel to enter the lineup, which she did with little warm-up, due to not being on the initial starting roster.
Carly Breitenfeldt, who has starred on the team most of the season, was still recovering from a prior injury and only competing in two events.
Breitenfeldt led Perham on uneven bars with a score of 9.275.
Perham's first rotation was on balance beam. Montella led the way with a 9.025, despite a fall midway through her routine.
The Yellowjackets scored highest on their strongest event, floor exercise, with a combined 36.625.
Montella put up the fourth highest score of the championship with a 9.525.
Hailey Brinkman, Melrose's lone senior, recorded a meet-high 9.650 on floor.
Brinkman and Montella are expected to battle for the top spot in tomorrow's individual championships.
Perham picked up momentum in their third event on vault.
Montella, eighth-grader Jordan Martinson, and freshman Alexis Peichel all put up scores over 9.1.
Martinson proved her worth last season as a seventh-grader at the state meet, as did Peichel. The duo will be called upon to lead next year's team.
"It was fun," Martinson said. "We've got a lot of work to do next year. We did good. Next year, we're going to pull it together and win."
While admittedly, most of the pressure fell on Montella, the underclassmen on the team were never clear of the weight of continuing Perham's streak.
"We were pressured in some ways but other ways it wasn't that bad," said Martinson. "I'm excited for next year."
Yellowjacket fans, who had become accustomed to being the most boisterous group in the Sports Pavilion come final rotation, got a taste of what the Yellowjackets doled out for nearly a decade, watching and listening to the roar of the Melrose faithful.
Melrose's last title in 1995 was the second of back-to-back state championships.
In Saturday's individual competition, Brinkman will try to keep the Melrose momentum going.
Brinkman finished third in last year's all-around competition behind Perham's state all-around champion Kelsi Vomacka and runner-up Amy Crawford, of Detroit Lakes.
Runners-up New Prague improved on finishing fourth the past two seasons. The Trojans were the last team to win a state title before Perham began its eight-year run.
Melrose's Brinkman wins all-around
MINNEAPOLIS -- Melrose senior gymnast Hailey Brinkman made it a clean sweep for the Dutchman gymnastics team taking the Minnesota Class 1A state gymnastics individual all-around championship Saturday at the University of Minnesota's Sports Pavilion with a score of 38.150.
Detroit Lakes' Jessica Stelter was the only gymnast to take an event from Brinkman. Stelter won the vault en route to a second-place finish in the all-around (37.975).
Stelter put up a big score on her first rotation on uneven bars with a 9.6625, but Brinkman won the event with a 9.7000.
All-around champ Brinkman's score of 9.625 on balance beam was good for her second state event title. A 9.650 on floor exercise made it three state event titles for the Melrose senior to go along with the Class A team title.
Perham senior Satera Montella finished in fifth place on floor exercise with a 9.425. Montella placed 11th in the all-around with a 36.350.
An injured ankle on her first vault attempt hampered Montella. She did not attempt a second vault. She scored an 8.975 landing her in 29th place.
She finished 19th on balance beam with an 8.775 and scored a 9.200 on uneven bars.
Four of next year's hopefuls from Perham competed in the individual competitions.
Freshman Alexis Peichel finished 14th on uneven bars with a 9.075. She scored an 8.950 on vault, a 9.050 on balance beam and an 8.075 on floor exercise. Peichel placed 23rd in the all-around with a 35.150.
Eighth-graders Justine Meyer and Jordan Martinson made their marks. Meyer was 10th on balance beam with a 9.075. Martinson finished 22nd on floor exercise with a 9.125.
Seventh-grader Carly Breitenfeldt cracked a top-10 finish placing 10th on bars with a score of 9.100.
Friday, Feb. 24; Minnesota State Class A Gymnastics Team Competition, Sports Pavilion, University of Minnesota:
Team scoring: Team Score (Vault, Bars, Beam, Floor)
1. Melrose Area 147.500 (36.875, 36.875, 36.775, 36.975)
2. New Prague Area 145.425 (37.425, 35.100, 35.600, 37.300)
3. Big Lake 145.300 (37.025, 35.300, 35.850, 37.125)
4. Perham 143.775 (36.375, 35.600, 35.175, 36.625)
5. Austin 142.025 (36.100, 34.350, 34.225, 37.350)
6. Jackson County Central 138.275 (35.750, 33.100, 33.800, 35.625)
7. Breck 138.125 (35.950, 32.300, 33.875, 36.000)
8. Rush City/Pine City/ Hinckley-Finlayson 135.050 (35.350, 31.975, 34.300, 33.425)
Satera Montella 9.525; Jordan Martinson 9.175; Carly Breitenfeldt 8.975; Alexis Peichel 8.950; Madison Peichel 8.200.
Satera Montella 9.025; Jordan Martinson 8.850; Justine Meyer 8.650; Alexis Peichel 8.650; Madison Peichel 7.850.
Carly Breitenfeldt 9.275; Alexis Peichel 9.200; Jordan Martinson 8.725; Justine Meyer 8.400; Satera Montella 8.250.
Satera Montella 9.475; Jordan Martinson 9.200; Alexis Peichel 9.150; Madison Peichel 8.550; Justine Meyer 8.525.