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Lakers send record four gymnasts to state

Scoring a 145.600 as a team in gymnastics during a section meet usually means a trip to the state meet.

That is, unless that particular team resides in Section 8-1A.

No other section in Class 1A would have been able to touch the Detroit Lakes' final team score of 145.600 -- which is another DLHS record, the fourth such time the Lakers have broken it this year alone -- save one.

That happens to be the current gymnastics dynasty of Perham, which also happens to reside in Section 8-1A. The Yellowjackets will be heavy favorites to win their third straight state championship after scoring a lofty 152.225 Friday in the Section meet in Perham.

That mark is only .575 away from an all-time state record.

But there is a good consolation prize for the Lakers, after they qualified an all-time program high four gymnasts in five different events individually.

"It's just crazy, I am really proud of our team that we really could pull it together," said junior Meggie McCauley, who qualified for state on floor.

"It's just phenomenal getting a 145 at sections," added seventh grader Bre Halbur, who earned a state berth on vault in her first year of varsity competition. "We just couldn't let ourselves think (of Perham). Good or bad, we just wanted to go out and do our best and have no regrets."

The only regret the Lakers would have wasn't in their control -- that they have had to share the section with the best team in the state the last three years.

And that alone is a testament to DL's work ethic, through a season where they knew it would be a virtually impossible task to overcome the Yellowjackets.

"This has been the most fun year as a coach I've had," said DL head coach Matt Horner, who also was named Co-Head Coach of the Year in Section 8-1A, along with Perham's Charlie Fleck. "Everything we've asked the girls as coaches, they have done. They knew they had to face Perham, but they still gave the best they had."

Individually, DL had a record section meet.

Junior Whitney Walter extended her state appearance streak to four years after marking a 9.65 for fourth place on bars.

Halbur hit a 9.5 on vault, following junior Annelise Thorsgard, who nabbed third on vault with a 9.55.

McCauley landed a 9.35 on floor to qualify her for her first state meet as well, making three of the four Lakers first-time state competitors.

"My hat is off to all the girls, that state experience will be very valuable for them," Horner said of the state-bound Lakers.

For Walter, this will be her third-straight state bar routine, making her quite the seasoned vet.

"I was confident in my scores, but I knew I would have to get some high ones (at section)," Walter said. "It wasn't my best, but it does feel really good to make it back."

The youngest of the crew -- Halbur -- was basically an unknown entering the season, since she was a first-year varsity gymnast. State was a long way away from her thoughts as she started her first varsity season.

"I didn't have any realistic (goals) of making state," Halbur said. "Basically, it (he chance) was slim to none. But I had a good year and kept learning new skills. I just wanted to give it my all and have no regrets."

The vault was DL's last event of the meet, which was evident in the loud cheers from the crowd and from the team. It was something which really loosened up Halbur.

"We have five strong vaulters and we just kept cheering and cheering for each other -- it made me work even harder," Halbur said.

Thorsgard's 9.55 was .10 away from first-place Betsy Mann of Perham, who had a 9.65. Like Halbur, going to state in not one, but two, events was far from her thinking during the season.

"I wasn't even thinking of going to state," Thorsgard said. "Especially in vault."

Thorsgard notched a 9.4 on floor, a score she didn't think would hold in the top four, either.

"I was bummed afterward, but after a while, I kept peeking over at the scores, I thought I had a good chance then," Thorsgard added. "It's crazy going to state, I've been wanting to for so long."

For McCauley, her 9.35 on floor was good enough for that state golden ticket, even though the possibility of going to state wasn't on her mind during the day.

"I never thought I'd be going (to state)," McCauley said. "I was just able to hit all my skills. It's actually very overwhelming."

Frazee's Rebecca Buhr finished 18th overall with 28.850 points. Her highest finish was on vault in 12th, with a score of 8.75.

The state individual meet will be Saturday inside Roy Wilkins Arena in St. Paul, beginning at 11 a.m. Perham will compete in the Class 1A team meet Friday, beginning at 11 a.m.

Laker results

Section 8-1A gymnastics meet at Perham, Friday, Feb. 17.

Team results: Perham 152.225, Detroit Lakes 145.6, Little Falls 126.575, Fergus Falls 122.2, Wadena-Deer Creek 118.425, Park Rapids 118.025, Frazee 28.850.

DL individual results (*state qualifier) -- Beam: 6. Whitney Walter 8.9; 7. Annelise Thorsgard 8.85; 8. Meggie McCauley 8.425, 9. Heather Neumeister 8.225; 10. Courtney Einerson 8.2...Vault: *3. Thorsgard 9.55; *4. Bre Halbur 9.5; 5. Einerson 9.475; 6. Walter 9.425; 10. Neumeister 9.25...Bars: *4. Walter 9.65; 6. Kristi Hoppert 8.95; 7. Thorsgard 8.925; 9. Shayna Dugger 8.725...Floor: *2. Thorsgard 9.4; 4. McCauley 9.35; 7. Dugger 9.175; 8. Einerson 9.075; 12. Walter 8.725...All-around: 5. Thorsgard 36.725; 6. Walter 36.7; 7. Einerson 34.9.

Frazee individual results -- Beam: 15. Becca Buhr 7.5...Vault: 12. Buhr 8.75...Bars: 27. Buhr 5.6...Floor: 29. Buhr 7.0...All-around: 18. Buhr 28.85.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.