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VIDEO: Lakers three-peat in convincing fashion

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Detroit Lakes captured a third consecutive state gymnastics championship Friday at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Robert Williams/Tribune2 / 4
The Lakers react to Lexi Yliniemi's floor exercise routine at the Minnesota Class A state gymnastics championships Friday in Minneapolis. Paul Gregersen/Special to the Tribune3 / 4
DL seniors L-R: Johanna Jernberg, Molly Lyngaas, Leah Chavez, and Mathia Olds pose with the team's third state championship trophy Friday in Minneapolis. Robert Williams/Tribune4 / 4

The Detroit Lakes Gymnastics team captured a third consecutive Minnesota Class A team championship in a record-breaking performance Friday at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis.

The Lakers began the meet on uneven parallel bars and set a new state scoring record on the apparatus with a 38.150. A week ago, DL started on bars at sections and had a slow start, something they wanted to avoid at state.

“It started out just as intense as it always has and we started great,” said senior Molly Lyngaas. “Bars has been hit or miss and we broke the state record.”

The Lakers built on the strong start and cruised to a victory of more than two points with a new state team record score of 151.675, breaking the former mark of 150.4 set by Section 8A rivals Perham in 2005.

Melrose, ranked No. 2 behind the Lakers all season, took silver runner-up medals (149.425). Austin scored 147.175 for bronze.

Peyton Jernberg

“We’re grateful; they worked very hard,” Laker head coach Steve Zamzo said. “We were nervous about bars and beam and hit that pretty well and were just a little down on vault and floor, but they still competed well.”

DL’s state record score was one-tenth of a point off their school record mark of 151.775, set last weekend at the section championships.

“There were little things here and there that could have gone better, but overall it was just fantastic,” said Lyngaas. “We came in and did what we needed to do.”

Lyngaas is one of four seniors departing the team this year after a nearly perfect run the past four seasons. Leah Chavez, Mathia Olds, Johanna Jernberg and the accompanying underclassmen have not lost a varsity meet since the team placed third at state in 2014.

“They are amazing leaders and will be very successful in whatever they choose to do throughout the rest of their lives,” Zamzo said of his senior class. “They are a classy group of ladies.”

Injuries are a given in gymnastics and the Laker squad has used the luxury of team depth to fill voids in the lineup all season and during the three-year run to state titles.

Lyngaas and the Lakers enjoy the award ceremony. Photo: Paul Gregersen

Lyngaas, the 2015 state all-around champion, has a special story coming back from multiple foot injuries that kept her out all of 2015-16 and could only participate on bars due to the severity of the damage. She led the team with a 9.75 on bars Friday. Sophomore Justine Lawrence and freshman Jackson Hegg were right behind with a 9.65 and 9.6, respectively.

DL scored 37.750 on balance beam led by Peyton Jernberg’s 9.6. Emma Disse and Okeson recorded scores of 9.45. Alexis Ostlie had the fourth scoring mark of 9.25.

Disse is the defending floor exercise champion and scored a team-high 9.525, followed by Jernberg (9.5), Okeson (9.475) and Lexi Yliniemi’s 9.4. DL currently holds the state floor exercise record set in 2015 (38.350). They scored 37.9 Friday.

Emily Smith, center, and DL on the championship podium. Photo: Paul Gregersen

The Lakers wrapped up the meet on vault scoring 37.875, led by Okeson’s 9.55, Jernberg’s 9.475, Lawrence (9.475) and Yliniemi (9.375).

DL still has a ways to go to catch the all-time state titles record set by Perham with eight consecutive championships, but the seniors on this team snapped the Yellowjackets dominance and leave a team with plenty of experience to reach the halfway mark in 2018.

“We were always the underdogs with Perham and finally ended up winning and it just kept going up and up from there,” said Lyngaas.

Yliniemi, Okeson, Jernberg, Hegg, Disse and Ostlie will compete in the state individual meet on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 11 a.m.

Minnesota Class A State Gymnastics

Team scores: 1 Detroit Lakes 151.675, 2 Melrose 149.425, 3 Austin 147.175, 4 Mahtomedi 144.375, 5 Watertown-Mayer/Mound-Westonka 143.250, 6 Becker 142.025, 7 Mankato West 139.025, Worthington 138.7.

Detroit Lakes scores

Uneven Parallel Bars 38.150

Molly Lyngaas 9.75, Justine Lawrence 9.65, Jackson Hegg 9.6, Cora Okeson 9.15, Leah Chavez 9.125

Balance Beam 37.750

Peyton Jernberg 9.6, Emma Disse 9.45, Cora Okeson 9.45, Alexis Ostlie 9.25, Jackson Hegg 9.025

Floor Exercise 37.900

Emma Disse 9.525, Peyton Jernberg 9.5, Cora Okeson 9.475, Lexi Yliniemi 9.4, Jackson Hegg 9.3

Vault 37.875

Cora Okeson 9.55, Peyton Jernberg 9.475, Justine Lawrence 9.475, Lexi Yliniemi 9.375, Emily Smith 9.175

Robert Williams

Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Williams worked prior as the Sports Editor in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14. 

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