Senior Cora Okeson won the all around title and the Detroit Lakes gymnastics team captured a sixth consecutive Section 8A team championship at The Hive gymnasium in Perham Saturday, Feb. 16.
Okeson and fellow seniors Peyton Jernberg, Justine Lawrence, Anneka Lindstrom and Lexi Yliniemi are one meet away from finishing their careers never having lost a team competition.
DL’s last team defeat was a third place finish at the 2013-14 state tournament when this senior class was in seventh grade.
Saturday, the Lakers nearly tied the team scoring record putting up 152.325 points to capture the section title handily by more than four points over runners-up Perham (147.750). The top team mark of 152.375 was set at last year’s section meet.
Getting that close to the school record was unexpected to a team that aims for it every meet.
“We are always trying to get it but it came as kind of a surprise,” junior Jackson Hegg said.
What is no surprise is the feeling of elation of getting past the section meet and back to state where the Lakers will compete as heavy favorites for a fifth consecutive team championship.
“This is probably the hardest meet of the season and it’s super stressful but we all made it through and did what we wanted to do,” said Hegg. “The last present you take it’s just a big relief.”
For Okeson and the seniors, a few more feelings are creeping in as the season comes down to its final weekend.
“It’s definitely different than last year, being one of the oldest and knowing that every practice is one day closer to being my final,” she said. “I’m just giving it all I have.”
With plenty of emotions lingering Okeson was all business on the mat and in her approach to competing.
“Just coming here and doing it for the team and doing what I know how to do,” Okeson said.
She and the rest of the team may have run out of any collective tears from the months of preparation getting to this point of the season.
“We have a high standard and we’ve been pushed in practice to the point of tears almost,” said Okeson.
Hegg and Okeson grabbed two of the three individual all around places for day two at state after team competition is completed. Okeson scored 38.8 to capture her second section all around title. She was the champion in Fergus Falls at the 2016 section meet also.
Hegg placed third with a 38.025. Perham’s Jada Olsen was the runner-up scoring 38.175.
Olsen won the section vault title scoring 9.875 to keep Laker gymnasts from sweeping all four events.
Okeson had the top floor routine scoring 9.8. Hegg appeared to take home two section titles winning on bars (9.675) and balance beam (9.650), but a tiebreaker used between Okeson and Hegg’s matching scores on bars was reversed in favor of Okeson by the chief judge in a ruling change after competition was completed.
The top three scores outside of the three all arounders also advance to individual state.
Yliniemi (9.850), Jernberg (9.675) and DL eighth-grader Gabby Whitworth (9.450) will compete for a state vault title.
Qualifying on bars were Lawrence (9.650) and Perham’s Ashley Hokanson (9.200) and Dena Fischer (9.000).
Justine Lawrence was the beam runner-up (9.625) and will compete at state with fellow qualifiers Jernberg (9.375) and Hokanson (9.250).
Floor runner-up Hokanson (9.700), Yliniemi (9.675) and Alexandria’s Sydney Gray (9.325) qualified to compete at state floor exercise.
The Lakers competed without Ellie Hultin who was in a knee brace and may have multiple ligament issues. She is still a possibility to compete on bars at state if needed.
Detroit Lakes has held a four-point scoring average differential over every team in the state all season and head to state as the only team averaging a score in the 150s.
According to Okeson, the team’s collective sites are set on more records at the biggest competition of the year.
“We can do it,” she said. “We’re trying to get all the records, actually.”
The Lakers own the Class A state team scoring record of 151.675, the floor exercise record of 38.350 and the bars’ top mark of 37.9 all set in 2017.
Melrose holds the vault (38.45) and beam (37.975) records.
The all-time Minnesota team scoring record of 153.525 was set by Class AA Roseville Area in 2008.
The Class A state meet will be held at Maturi Pavilion in Minneapolis Feb. 22-23 with competition beginning at 11 a.m. on both days.
Section 8A Gymnastics Championships
1 Detroit Lakes 152.325 (Vault 38.825, Bars 37.45, Beam 38.175, Floor 37.875)
2 Perham 147.750
3 Fergus Falls 134.900
4 Alexandria 133.375
5 Little Falls 125.450
6 Park Rapids 123.325
7 MAHACA 118.375
1 Cora Okeson DL 38.800
2 Jada Olsen PER 38.175
3 Jackson Hegg DL 38.025
4 Ashley Hokanson PER 37.400
5 Gabby Whitworth DL 35.600
6 Sydney Gray ALEX 34.525
1 Jada Olsen PER 9.875
2 Alexis Yliniemi DL 9.850
3 Cora Okeson DL 9.800
4 Peyton Jernberg DL 9.675
5 Jackson Hegg DL 9.500
6 Gabby Whitworth DL 9.450
1 Cora Okeson DL 9.675
2 Jackson Hegg DL 9.675
3 Justine Lawrence DL 9.650
4 Jada Olsen PER 9.600
5 Ashley Hokanson PER 9.200
6 Dena Fischer PER 9.000
8 Gabby Whitworth DL 8.450
9 Jerzie Horner DL 8.350
1 Jackson Hegg DL 9.650
2 Justine Lawrence DL 9.625
3 Cora Okeson DL 9.525
4 Peyton Jernberg DL 9.375
5 Ashley Hokanson PER 9.250
6 Jada Olsen PER 9.175
12 Gabby Whitworth DL 8.500
1 Cora Okeson DL 9.800
2 Ashley Hokanson PER 9.700
3 Alexis Yliniemi DL 9.675
4 Jada Olsen PER 9.525
5 Sydney Gray, ALEX 9.325
6 Avery McAllister PER 9.300
7 Gabby Whitworth DL 9.200
8 Jackson Hegg DL 9.200
14 Peyton Jernberg DL 8.900