Gymnastics: Whitworth, McAllister put on a show at state; Lakers prove they're still a Class A power
Detroit Lakes' Gabby Whitworth takes sixth in all-around. Perham's Avery McAllister takes ninth. Lakers felt good to make it back competing in team competition.
ST. PAUL – The best gymnasts at the Class A level were crowned at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium on Saturday night. Two of them are from Detroit Lakes and Perham.
Lakers junior Gabby Whitworth took sixth place in the all-around standings with a 37.25. Perham sophomore Avery McAllister was right behind her in ninth place with a 36.775. Two of the best that Section 8A has to offer left with multiple medals around their necks at the individual state tournament.
Whitworth started her night with a third-place vault score of 9.75– one of her best of the season. It ended up being her top score of the evening.
“I don’t even know how to describe it. I just started crying after,” Whitworth said of her vault performance. “It felt amazing, and I can’t even put into words what it was like to do that here.”
McAllister followed up Whitworth’s vault with a 9.775. She held the top spot among all vaulters until Watertown-Mayer-Mound-Westonka’s Anna Meilke stuck a 9.8 score on the last vault attempt of the tournament.
“Practice this week went super well, but you never know what’s going to happen,” McAllister said. “I was in first place until the last girl went. Getting second is still a good accomplishment, but I want to get first place next year. The girl who got first had a crazy vault. Being so close to gold inspires me even more to work harder this summer and come back even stronger.”
At the Section 8A tournament, the Lakers clinched their 10th team trip to state following sophomore Elsie Ratz’s 9.25 vault. On Saturday, she eclipsed her section score by over a point.
“I am so proud of Elsie,” Detroit Lakes head coach Leesa Lindgaard said. “She struggled with this vault. We’ve been working on it all season. She was super frustrated with it, and it took a lot of hard work from her. At the beginning of this season, I told her that she would get it. I had no doubt about it. That’s exactly what she did. She kept fighting, working and pushing through. She had lots of bad days with that vault. She kept working hard at it, and it clicked.”
Perham sophomore Brittney Lorentz pulled out of three events on Saturday with an apparent foot injury. The only event she did was the bars, where she scored an 8.95. That was good enough for 18th place. Lorentz took third in the section all-around standings with a score of 36.7. She won the Section 8A bars title with a 9.4.
On the beam, McAllister clinched her spot in the all-around top-10. She took home a fourth-place medal with a score of 9.375. She also scored an 8.4 on her bars routine.
“Beam is what makes me most nervous because it’s one mistake, and you’re out,” McAllister. “I really pulled it together today. That’s another thing where it makes me want to come back even stronger.”
Detroit Lakes junior Jerzie Horner competed in three events. She vaulted a 9.3 before scoring an 8.175 on the bars. She closed out her season on the beam with a score of 9.175. Horner’s up-and-down night symbolized how her season has gone and how much she’s had to grow internally to perform physically.
“Mentally, Jerzie just pulled through,” Lindgaard said. “She had that tough ankle injury, so to overcome that and come through was so great to see. She got done with her first vault today and goes, ‘I want to do another one.’ She landed it, and it was good. We didn’t need another one. But she keeps pushing through and fighting through that pain. That’s who Jerzie is.”
Whitworth and McAllister ended their season on the floor. McAllister’s score of 9.225 was good enough to keep her in the top 10, while Whitworth took home a third-place medal with a score of 9.55. Her ability to adapt has been one of her biggest strengths in her junior campaign.
“Gabby is such a great gymnast,” Lindgaard said. “She keeps her head focused, and her mind focused on what she needs to do. She always does what’s asked of her. I switched up her vault during Christmas time… She wasn’t a fan at first, but she proved she could do it today with a 9.75 in third place on that.”
W-M-M-W’s Reagan Kelley (38.475) and Anna Mielke (38.375) finished first and second in the all-around standings. McAllister felt bummed to miss the top six and a spot on the podium by just over a half of a point, but is already looking to use it as motivation for next season.
“A lot of upgrades,” McAllister said and her goals for the future. “I’ve still got two years left, and I’m going to use them to my advantage. I see a lot of seniors here hitting these things that don’t have the opportunity I have. I need to get in the gym this summer and try my hardest because I want to come back next year even stronger.”
“(Today) is filled with a lot of emotions. I kind of had the whole day to prepare. I feel like today was just a lot of ups and downs. It’s such a great feeling even getting here. Even with those ups and downs, I’m really proud of how I did today.”
Detroit Lakes takes sixth as a team
On Friday night, the Lakers competed for the Class A team championship for the first time since 2019. Laker coaches and supporters wore shirts reading “We’re Back” to show the Detroit Lakes gymnastics program is still a Class A power.
“This weekend was great,” Lindgaard said. “We weren’t expected to be down here, and we made it. Having that team aspect here was such a huge part of it. We came together when we needed it. All of our girls were healthy, and they fought for each other and had each other’s back.”
The Lakers finished with a team score of 140.575. Full results from the team competition on Friday night can be found here .
Whitworth and Horner competed in the 2021 individual tournament, but were excited to bring their teammates this time, especially since the state tournament was back in St. Paul.
“Last year, it was a one-day trip, and we all went home right away,” Whitworth said. “It didn’t feel like state last year with all of the COVID-19 restrictions and the way it was run. It was so much fun seeing everyone here in this atmosphere was amazing. We all lived it up, and that was my favorite part of this weekend, and I wanted my team to experience it.”
At the Class A true team meet on Jan. 22, Detroit Lakes finished behind both Melrose and Perham in 10th place out of 10 teams. Inevitably, some uncertainty about returning to the state tournament started to creep in.
“They had their doubts,” Lindgaard said. “I told them that we’re going to be down here; no doubt about it. That confidence just kept growing. At sections, coming together as a team did a lot of good for our confidence. Coming down here, we showed all of the people here what we could do.”
Much like McAllister, Whitworth is also looking to this weekend as motivation for next season. She hopes the experience gained this weekend pushes the Lakers to make another appearance in 2023.
“Next year, we’ll be working our butts off to get back here,” Whitworth said. “We will just have a lot of fun, but also work super hard. We all know what it’s like to be here now, so I think that will push us even harder to make it again next season. We can do this again.”
PERHAM AND DETROIT LAKES STATE CLASS A INDIVIDUAL SCORES- VAULT- Detroit Lakes- 3rd-Gabby Whitworth 9.75, 16th- Elsie Ratz 9.375, 20th- Jerzie Horner 9.3; Perham- 2nd- Avery McAllister 9.775; BARS- Detroit Lakes- 23rd- Whitworth 8.725, 43rd- Horner 8.175; Perham- 18th- Brittney Lorentz 8.95, 40th- McAllister 8.4; BEAM- Detroit Lakes- 10th- Whitworth 9.225, 12th- Horner 9.175; Perham- 4th- McAllister 9.375; FLOOR- Detroit Lakes- 3rd- Gabby Whitworth 9.55; Perham- 17th- McAllister 9.225