The top-ranked Detroit Lakes gymnastics team completed the first of two runs at five consecutive state titles this year with a convincing 8.4-point victory over the other top nine teams in Minnesota Class A at the State True Team championship Saturday, Jan. 26 at Ralph Anderson Gymnasium.
“Throughout the past five years, we’ve been in a pretty tough routine,” said senior Lexi Yliniemi. “Leesa (Lindgaard, assistant coach) has been pushing us really hard and these practices this week, especially on beam, we’ve been doing pressure routines, just like we would in a meet, and I think that obviously showed.”
In a regular meet with the top four scores counted, DL’s run on balance beam of senior Peyton Jernberg 9.75, junior Jackson Hegg 9.675, freshman Ellie Hultin 9.675 and senior Justine Lawrence 9.525 is a school record for the apparatus. Jernberg was awarded a 9.8 from one of the beam judges after a crisp and clean routine.
All five scores are counted at True Team which would include senior Cora Okeson with a solid score of 9.225.
“This made us really confident and we haven’t broken our regular 150 score yet this year, but I feel we have a really good chance that we did that today,” Yliniemi said.
The winning True Team score of 188.4 adjusted for regular meet scoring gives DL a season-high score well above 150 at 151.9.
Yliniemi led the Lakers on floor exercise with a 9.775, a team best score for the day, and also on vault with a 9.65 - her season best vault score. Okeson was right behind her in both events scoring 9.55 on vault and 9.575 on floor.
Okeson and Hultin competed in all four events for DL Saturday.
Lawrence scored 9.55 for the top team score on bars; Hegg was right there at the top with a 9.525.
The Lakers had 18 of 20 individual scores in the meet of 9.225 or better to run away with the team championship.
No. 2A Sartell-St. Stephen placed second scoring 182 and No. 4A Willmar grabbed a bronze finish with a team score of 176.95.
The victory had its highs and lows with the beginning of the end for five seniors - Jernberg, Lawrence, Anneka Lindberg, Okeson and Yliniemi - starting to come into play as the season winds down and meets get more intense.
“Today was a tough day,” said Yliniemi. “It was kind of emotional but we kept it together and knew if we just competed as one and had each other’s back it would be a good day. There are a lot of seniors and we’ve been doing this forever and it’s kind of sad that it’s coming to an end. It was super special having it at home.”
Contrary to the past four seasons, the Lakers will have the luxury of being at home to finish the regular season schedule and prepare for sections and state. The Lakers host Park Rapids, Moorhead and Bemidji in the span of five days beginning with the Panthers on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 6 p.m.
DL completes the run Saturday, Feb. 2 at 2 p.m. versus Bemidji before a two-week break for sections, which will be held at The Hive Gymnasium in Perham Saturday, Feb. 16.
Minnesota Class A State True Team championship, Saturday, Jan. 26
- 1A Detroit Lakes 188.4
- 2A Sartell-St. Stephen 182
- 4A Willmar 176.95
- 3A Monticello 176.325
- 7A Watertown-Mayer-Mound-Westonka 174.65
- 5A Big Lake 174.3
- 6A Perham 174.3
- 11A Melrose 171.35
- 8A Worthington 170.85
- 9A Pine Island-Zumbrota-Mazeppa 168.675
Vault: Lexi Yliniemi 9.65, Cora Okeson 9.55, Jackson Hegg 9.275, Peyton Jernberg 9.25, Ellie Hultin 9.225.
Beam: Peyton Jernberg 9.75, Jackson Hegg 9.675, Ellie Hultin 9.675, Justine Lawrence 9.525, Cora Okeson 9.225.
Bars: Justine Lawrence 9.55, Jackson Hegg 9.525, Cora Okeson 9.225, Ellie Hultin 8.9, Jerzie Horner 8.75.
Floor: Lexi Yliniemi 9.775, Cora Okeson 9.575, Ellie Hultin 9.55, Peyton Jernberg 9.45, Gabby Whitworth 9.3.