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Crawford becomes first-ever DL state champion

Laker Junior Amy Crawford performs her Class 1A state champion beam routine Saturday inside the University of Minnesota's Sports Pavilion.

The beam has been a make-or-break event for Detroit Lakes junior Amy Crawford throughout the 2009-10 season.

Needless to say, Saturday during the Class 1A state individual meet, Crawford "made it."

Crawford won DL its first-ever gymnastics state championship inside the University of Minnesota's Sports Pavilion, when she claimed the Class 1A balance beam title with her 9.575 score.

Her closest competitor was a two-time state beam champion, Perham junior Kelsi Vomacka, who earned a 9.55.

"It was pretty awesome being up there," Crawford said of the school's first visit to the first-place podium stand. "It's a sense of accomplishment that all that hard work is paying off.

"It's more of a surprise, than anything, being the first (gymnast) from DL to win a state title. It really puts it in perspective."

The Laker junior had to overcome some disappointment before her historic beam routine, after just missing out on potentially winning the bars event.

Crawford's bar routine was near flawless leading up to her dismount, where she had a little stagger landing on the mat.

"Going through her bars routine, she was doing an amazing job," said DL head coach Jenny Whipple. "But on her dismount, she thought she had more time to land, so she wasn't ready for her feet to hit. She didn't fall, but the judges deducted up to .3 loss of a point."

Crawford still finished fourth with a 9.3625, while Perham's Jenna Schmitz won the event with a 9.675.

"The bars were eating me up inside, but winning beam helped a lot," Crawford said. "I just tried to forget about bars and just focused staying on beam."

Mission completed, as Crawford notched her sticky beam, as well as an eventual state-champion routine.

"I just told her after the bars event that she had a very solid beam routine and (to) go up there and show it," Whipple said. "It's very exciting for her to win beam. She worked hard for it and she deserves it."

Crawford also made the podium in all-around with a fifth-place finish on a combined score of 37.5875, placing fourth on bars with a 9.3625, 13th on floor at 9.275 and 17th on vault with a 9.3875.

Schmitz won all-around with a 38.1, while Vomacka was second with a 37.9625.

There were plenty of Lakers following Crawford on the state podium, as junior Bre Halbur repeated her silver finish on vault from two years ago by landing a 9.675.

In 2008, Halbur hit a 9.7 for her runner-up finish. She then took her sophomore season off due to injury and fatigue, but resumed her gymnastics career this season.

Halbur decided to go with a layout on vault, instead of the lesser skill pike, which ultimately was the deciding factor for her silver.

"I had no expectations like this," Halbur said of her silver on vault. "I was just hoping for the best and went out with a nothing to lose attitude.

"I think it was that type of attitude which let me go for the layout. I thought if I got a good pike in, I would try the layout."

Four Lakers competed on the vault, as Jessica Stelter just missed the podium with a seventh-place finish on a 9.475 mark.

She was followed by sophomore Natalie Hoffert, who scored an eighth-place finish with a 9.4875.

Stelter was also an all-around competitor, along with Crawford, and finished in eighth with a 36.475.

Stelter scored an 8.55 on beam and a fourth-place finish on floor with her 9.535. She rounded out her score with an 8.9 on bars for 10th place.

Hoffert also finished 14th on floor with a 9.225.

The Section 8-1A gymnasts were dominant Saturday, collecting a total of 12 medals and four state championships amongst them.

"Oh yeah, I think we held our own," Crawford said of Section 8-1A, which included four Perham gymnasts, including Schmitz, Vomacka, Carly Petersen (who won vault) and Mikaela Eickschen.

The Lakers return everyone next season, as well, and now will have the momentum of DL's first-ever state championship with which to ride into next year.

Laker results

Class 2A state individual gymnastics meet at the University of Minnesota's Sports Pavilion, Saturday, Feb. 28.

DL event results -- All-around: 5. Amy Crawford 37.5875; 8. Jessica Stelter 36.475...Beam: 1. Crawford 9.55; Stelter 8.575 (all-around)...Bars: 4. Crawford 9.3625; 10. Stelter 8.9...Floor: 4. Stelter 9.525; 13. Crawford 9.2875; 14. Natalie Hoffert 9.2375...Vault: 2. Bre Halbur 9.675; 7. Stelter 9.475; 8. Hoffert 9.4875; 17. Crawford 9.3875.

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