The North Branch gymnastics team made program history during the Section 4A gymnastics meet Saturday.
The Vikings broke their own season-high team score yet again this season, recording a 142.875 score to qualify for the state meet as a team for the first time.
Head coach Barb Burdich said she is excited for her squad and for North Branch.
“It’s a dream come true, isn’t it?” Burdich said. “I’ve coached for many years, and it’s an honor to be a part of this with such wonderful kids that have put so much time and energy into it. We’re headed to North Branch businesses tomorrow to try to paint their store windows in support of our team. We’re going to try to paint the town.”
Not only did the squad qualify as a team, it will also be sending four individuals to the state meet in all events. Competitors who placed in the top four of each category advance to the state meet.
Senior Megan Mahoney placed first in the all-around competition field of 34 gymnasts with a score of 36.85, followed by junior Katy Trunk with a 36.475. Both girls also qualified on the vault, with Mahoney notching first with a 9.45 while Trunk posted a 9.25, good for third place.
Mahoney, sophomore Mikayla Johnson and Trunk went one-two-four on the vault, respectively. Mahoney excelled in the event, earning a score of 9.3 while Johnson and Trunk each recorded an 8.95.
It was another top finish for Mahoney on the bars, as she posted a 9.2. Trunk earned a score of 8.9 for third place while eighth-grader Alexys Olson took fourth with an 8.725. Trunk also qualified on the floor, notching first place with a 9.375.
Burdich mentioned some bittersweet emotions on the day. Despite the team’s state qualification, senior Casey Hovland, who joined Trunk at the individual state meet last season, was unable to qualify.
“It was a little disappointing for one of our strong-core athletes, Casey,” Burdich said. “According to her scores this season, we thought she would be a shoe-in on beam and floor, but she won’t be going in either event individually. I think she wanted it so bad she just psyched herself out. But she will be there competing with the team on Friday.”
Hovland placed sixth in the all-around competition after taking fifth place on vault, seventh on both floor and bars and 10th on beam.
Burdich said she was slightly surprised by the level of competition seen from St. Paul Highland Park, which placed second with a score of 135 with two consistent top-10 finishers. Rush City placed third overall.
North Branch competes in the state tournament beginning at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 21, at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion. Individual events take place Saturday, Feb. 22.