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Laker gymnasts have record-setting Section 8-1A meet

BRIAN BASHAM/TRIBUNE Amy Crawford performs on the balance beam during the Section 8A gymnastics championships in Perham Saturday. Crawford won the all-around title and will compete for a state title this Saturday at the University of Minnesota Gymnastics Complex.1 / 3
BRIAN BASHAM/TRIBUNE Jessica Stelter performed her floor excercise during the Section 8A gymnastics meet Saturday in Perham.2 / 3
BRIAN BASHAM/TRIBUNE Laker Amy Crawford has a laugh with Perham's Kelsi Vomacka when the Section 8A gymnastics meet was concluded Saturday afternoon.3 / 3

PERHAM - The top two gymnastics teams in Class 1A will not be represented in the state meet Friday -- since both reside in Section 8-1A.

For the No. 2 ranked Detroit Lakes gymnastics team, they were the ones left out, after No. 1 Perham clinched its eighth straight section championship and will be vying for their state-record seventh-consecutive state title.

But not all was lost for the Lakers.

In fact, much was gained by DL during the section meet Saturday.

After losing the team competition to the Yellowjackets by a 151.60 to 148.575 score, DL cleaned up on the individual state qualifying portion.

The Lakers tied a school record with four state qualifiers, while busting a DLHS mark with 12 different slots in the four events.

Unfortunately for the remaining five other section teams, the individual state spots were nabbed by either Perham or DL gymnasts.

Making the state meet individually for DL, included junior Amy Crawford (all-around), sophomore Jessica Stelter (all-around), junior Bre Halbur (vault) and sophomore Natalie Hoffert (vault and floor).

"It's a tough section to get out of, but we're happy that we are sending four gymnasts to state," said DL head coach Jennifer Whipple. "But it's sad to say the top two teams won't be there."

The Yellowjackets and Lakers were the consistent top two teams in state throughout the season -- which is ranked by meet averages -- and Saturday was no different, as each team compiled some state high scores.

Crawford came out on top in the all-around competition, posting a meet-high 38.4, which nipped out Perham's Jenna Schmitz' 38.125.

The DL junior gathered her points by winning the uneven bars with a 9.725, taking third on beam with a 9.6 and fourth on each of floor (9.5) and vault (9.575).

Heading into section, Crawford had the inside track to top all-around honors after winning the Mid-State Conference crown earlier in the month.

"It's pretty sweet," Crawford said of winning all-around. "I've really worked hard for this and it's paying off."

The Lakers started their day on beam -- which has been the determining factor against Perham for more than several years.

This section meet was no different.

The Yellowjackets scored a 38 (out of a best of 40), while the Lakers notched a combined 35.575.

"Really, it's never ending on beam," Crawford said the key to the section meet. "It was good to get beam out of the way first, because it took the pressure off and I was able to get rid of all the jitters."

Added Whipple, "It's an event we'll definitely work on during the offseason."

Stelter joins Crawford in all-around after taking fourth with a combined score of 37.925.

The sophomore took second on vault (9.725), fourth on bars (9.4), sixth on beam (9.25) and second on floor (9.55).

All this after she suffered a broken thumb just a couple of weeks ago.

"I just put the (pain) aside and tried my best," Stelter said of her injury. "It bothered me a little on bars, but it wasn't a big deal."

The Lakers best event was vault, where they will have four state competitors.

Perham's Carly Petersen won the vault with a 9.8, but DL took the next four slots, including a tie for fourth.

After a state trip on vault in 2008 -- which was proceeded by taking off her sophomore year in gymnastics -- Halbur returns in the event after she won bronze Saturday with a 9.6.

Each of Hoffert -- who is making her first trip to state -- and Crawford tied for fourth on vault with a 9.575 for state-qualifying scores.

Hoffert also will be joining Stelter and Crawford on floor after she finished third with a 9.525.

Even though DL will be more than well-represented in the Class 1A state individual meet, a team berth was as elusive as ever.

"It's tough to say we missed state (as a team) again, but it's a difficult section," Crawford said.

But the Lakers still have plenty of pride to take out of the 2009-2010 season, which included breaking a school team record when they marked a 149 in the Mid-State meet and had another solid performance in sections.

"This is one of the best seasons we've had," Stelter said. "We've worked very hard and we broke our scoring record."

The Class 1A state individual meet will start at 11 a.m. inside the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion Saturday.

The Yellowjackets will be going for their seventh-consecutive state team title Friday, starting at 11 a.m. inside the Sports Pavilion.

Frazee finishes sixth in section meet

The Lady Hornets of Frazee picked up some valuable section meet experience Saturday in Perham.

Jessica Irish finished as Frazee's top performer with a 17th place finish in all-around with a 31.375.

She notched a 15th spot on vault with an 8.5, while taking 14th on beam with an 8.15.

Other Frazee section competitors included Tiffany Haugen, Emma Buhr, Jerica Totland, Montana Osterman and Kirsten Tollefson.

Laker results

Section 8-1A meet in Perham, Saturday, Feb. 20.

Team results (*state qualifier) -- *Perham 151.60, Detroit Lakes 148.575, Fergus Falls 132.875, Little Falls 132.525, Park Rapids 119.30, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle 115.325, Frazee 109.625.

DL event results (*state qualifiers) -- Vault: *2. Jessica Stelter 9.725; *3. Bre Halbur 9.6; *T-4. Natalie Hoffert and Amy Crawford 9.575; 8. Kristy Hoppert 9.4...Bars: *1. Crawford 9.725; *4. Stelter 9.4; 6. Hoppert 9.075; 10. Kyley Foster 8.525; 13. Hoffert 8.35...Beam: *3. Crawford 9.6; 6. Stelter 9.25; 8. Hoppert 8.375; 9. Hoffert 8.35...Floor: *2. Stelter 9.55; *3. Hoffert 9.525; *4. Crawford 9.5; 9. Hoppert 9.225; 12. Halbur 9.075...All-around: *1. Crawford 38.4; 4. Stelter 37.925; 8. Hoppert 36.075; 9. Hoffert 35.8.

Frazee event results -- Vault: 15. Jessica Irish 8.5; 17. Tiffany Haugen 8.4; 20. Emma Buhr 8.35; 32. Jerica Totland 7.5; 35. Montana Osterman 6.8...Bars: 20. Irish 7.225; 24. Haugen 6.75; 29. Buhr 6.15; 34. Osterman 3.5; 35. Totland 2.1...Beam: 14. Irish 8.15; 27. Haugen 6.95; 28. Buhr 6.9; 34. Totland 3.65; 35. Osterman 3.5...Floor: 22. Haugen 7.6; 23. Irish 7.5; 26. Buhr 7.4; 34. Osterman 5.1; 35. Kirsten Tollefson 4.1...All-around: 17. Irish 31.375; 19. Irish 29.7; 22. Buhr 28.8; 27. Osterman 18.9.

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