By Victoria Dahlin—
The Rush City/Pine City/Hinckley-Finlayson gymnastic team is not only going to the MSHSL State Gymnastic Championships after taking the Section 4A Team Championship, but Cassidy Dunkley (H-F), Katelyn Meier (RC) and Bailey Murwaski (RC) will be competing individually as well.
Also advancing to the state competition are North Branch gymnasts Katy Trunk and Bayley Ertl after they, too, qualified at the Section 4A Championships held at Chisago Lakes High School Tuesday, Feb. 14.
The Rush City/Pine City/Hinckley-Finlayson gymnastic team won over 10 teams at the section tournament, scoring 137.15 to put them ahead of Chisago Lakes Area with 133.475 and North Branch with 132.425 team points.
Placing in the top four and qualifying for the State Individual Championships, Dunkley took second in all-around, first on vault, second on floor and third on balance beam; Meier placed fourth on balance beam and fourth on floor; and Murawski was first on balance beam.
“Our first three competitors hit their vault as they normally do, but scores were much lower than they usually receive,” said Coach Dianne Meier. “Alecia Meier and Cassidy Dunkley both stepped up and hit bigger than ever to earn our top two scores for our vault team. Then to bars where Katelyn Meier, Bailey Murawski, Alecia and Cassidy all hit super routines. Unfortunately, their start values are not as high as they would like. Our big bars scorer Kylee Berube unfortunately had trouble in her routine. It’s too bad, she was a shoe in for state individual on bars.
“After two events we were feeling nervous about our team score and if it would be enough to take us to state. Then to the beam where our team has put in more hours of practice time than any event, as we know our start values are high so if we hit we can do well there. They hit, and they hit big.
“Kylee started the team. She put her bars trouble behind her and nailed her routine. Then Alecia had a fall on her first skill but the seasoned competitor that she is continued the rest of her routine flawlessly, which without the fall would have been good enough for state. Katie got up and performed as if no one was watching, no wobbles and hit everything well. Cassidy also hit everything and kept the momentum going.
“Then our big beam scorer Bailey Murawski continued the trend and nailed a beautiful routine, good for first place on beam. We had positive attitudes going to the floor. Floor was fantastic. Taniel Schellbach started the team with Bailey, Alecia, Katie and Cassidy to follow. They performed so well and were so fun to watch.
“The girls have really worked hard and really defined how strong their team is. Their bodies are beat up from a strenuous season, but they continue to push for bigger and better. In fact at practice two girls were able to add a bonus high superior dismount to their beam routine. They are enjoying this moment and they never stop giving 100 percent of themselves for their team. I could not be more proud of them.
“Many people do not realize this, but Bailey Murawski, Alecia Meier, Cassidy Dunkley and Katie Meier have been gymnastics teammates since they were 4 years old. Bailey Mollberg and Kayla Forcier have also spent some time as their teammates as well. These girls started doing classes at Northern Flight Gymnastics. They started in preschool class together, and continued to move through various levels of the Northern Flight team together.
“They are more than teammates. These girls are sisters. They have helped each other for years getting new and exciting skills, working through tough times and winning and losing together. They are amazing to coach, and I am truly honored,” Coach Meier noted.
Only the first place team and top four in each event and the all-around qualify for the State Championships. The Class A Team State Championships begin at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 24, and the Individual and All-Around begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis.
Katelyn Meier 15th 8.225, 9.3
Cassidy Dunkley 5th 8.25
Bailey Murawski 1st 9.075
Cassidy Dunkley 2nd 9.075
Alecia Meier 8th 8.55
Placing in the top four to advance at the section championships, Trunk took third in the all-around, second on the vault and third on the uneven bars. Ertl came in fourth on the vault.
“What can I say, we had an amazing season,” said Coach Barb Burdick. “Tiffany (assistant coach) and I could not be more proud of our team this year. We did not have the best meet of the season, but we are so proud to be sending two girls to state this year. This has not happened for North Branch since 1987.
“Bayley and Katy are not the only two who deserve a round of applause for their performances. Senior Ariana Olson was out there giving it her all for the team despite having an injured leg and being in pain. She really pulled through for the team. Freshman Maranda Nelson had a very good meet. She was strong on all four of the events and really helped the team. Also competing for the Vikings were captain junior Jaime Salo, also with an injury, and eighth graders Madeline Pantalion and Cassie Kunisher. We could not have had such a great season without all of these girls.”
The Viking team placed third with a score of 132.425 behind Chisago Lakes Area with 133.475 and Rush City/Pine City/ Hinckley-Finlayson with a score of 137.15. Only the first place team and top four in each event and the all-around qualify for the State Championships.
Trunk and Ertl will be competing in the Class A Individual and All-Around at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25.
NB Gymnasts @ Section Championship