Jackets dominate at State Meet
By John George firstname.lastname@example.org Its funny how expectations can change the perception of sporting events. Attempting to meet high expectations can crush the spirit of those not strong enough to reach them. Those who do rise to the occasion are able ...
By John George
Its funny how expectations can change the perception of sporting events. Attempting to meet high expectations can crush the spirit of those not strong enough to reach them. Those who do rise to the occasion are able to rejoice in the moment of reaching those heights.
The Perham gymnastics team had tremendously high expectations for the State Class A Gymnastics Meet. Expectations put on them not only by themselves, but everyone around them. Although they didnt meet all those expectations, they were able to win a third straight team title.
The Jackets entered Fridays meet at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul hoping to re-write the record books. After reaching a school record score of 152.225 at the Section 8A Meet last week, Perham was looking to set the all-time State Meet record of 152.825, set by Lakeville in 1997.
Although they fell short, their score of 150.125 was still almost four points ahead of second place Lakeville South (146.225).
We didnt do so well on a couple of events and you always think in the back of your mind, What if we dont win, the teams lone senior, Betsy Mann said. With all the expectations we had, that would have been tough to deal with.
Perham started out slow. Well, slow for them anyway. They scored a 37.775 in their first event, the vault. Although that team score proved to be the best on the vault on the day, the team was far from satisfied.
Their outlook improved in their next event, the uneven bars, where they set a Class A State Meet record with a team score of 37.9.
Weve got a lot of difficulty, especially on the uneven bars, head coach Charlie Fleck said. We had a few mistakes down here that we shouldnt have made, but overall we did pretty good.
They had a couple of falls in the third rotation, the balance beam, leaving that little bit of doubt in the back of their heads.
After the beam we were really, really nervous, said sophomore Miranda Schmitz. Three falls isnt our best. Last year we broke the record on beam. We were a little worried.
They didnt feel fully comfortable until their final rotation, the floor, where they put away all contenders with a team score of 37.9.
I didnt feel like we had the title until after the floor, said Schmitz.
Kourtney Johnston, who had the teams best All-Around score with a 38.4, agreed.
We werent sure until the floor Johnston said. There was no one moment where I thought we won it. It was just a feeling as we built towards the end of the meet.
Maybe the pressure did get to us, she added.
Three in a row is amazing, Fleck said. I dont think the kids realize what a big deal it really is. Its huge for any program. Getting here put a lot of undue pressure on our kids. It tells you what kind of kids we have to not have our best day and get this kind of result. Its not the way we wanted to do it, but once again, our depth showed through. When someone faltered, someone else picked it up.
The team did falter at times. They scored a zero on one vault attempt, they had a fall on the bars and a couple of falls on the beam.
I think we all asked ourselves, What if? said Johnston. But we were able to hold things together and finish strong.
Perham has now won three State titles in the programs five year history. Its the 12th championship for Fleck, who also coached Fargo South to nine North Dakota titles.
We knew lately weve been scoring really consistently, so I didnt think there was as much pressure as there was to win our second, Schmitz said. Were starting to be able to handle the pressure and not let it get in our way. I think weve got a couple more in us.
One gymnast will not have any more team championships in her future.
This is what weve been working towards all year, Mann said after her final team competition. Winning another team title was always the goal. Now Im satisfied.
The team should have more chances at adding to their trophy case. With just Mann graduating, the Jackets will return virtually their entire team, and a handful of new talent ready to be the next Betsy Mann.
Theyre driven, Fleck said of the younger girls in the program. They work so hard to achieve greatness. Nothing will hold them back.