Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Austin Packers gymnastics take fifth place at state in Class A team competition

The section 1A champion Austin Packers gymnastics team finished in fifth place at the Class A State Meet today in Minneapolis, at the University of Minnesota’s Sports Pavilion.

Austin topped the competition in its first event, the floor exercise, and was in second place at the meet’s halfway point. The team did not fare as well in the other events, but team captain Abigayle Snater was satisfied with her team’s performance overall.

“We definitely didn’t have our best day as a team, but some of the girls individually went out there and hit it,” Snater said. “I think we’re just proud of the team’s effort.”

One of those individuals who “hit it” was Austin’s Sela Fadness.

Despite earning the top scores fo
r her team in both the floor and vault, the sophomore said she could’ve done better with each of them. However, she was able to feel a strong sense of accomplishment with her uneven bars routine.

“Bars is my favorite event, but it’s not always my best event and this season it’s proven to be my lowest-scoring event,” Fadness said. “So after hitting that bar routine and hitting that score I was really happy.”

Fadness’ score in the uneven bars was 8.575, the best score of her career in this event. Her scores on the floor and vault were 9.55 and 9.40, respectively.

As a team, Austin scored a 37.35 in the floor exercise. The team’s scores on the other events were not as strong – the Packers posted a 36.10 in vault, 34.35 in uneven bars and 34.225 on balance beam.

The team’s overall score was 142.025 – good for fifth out of eight teams.

“It shows where our program’s strengths are, and our team’s weakness,” Coach Mark Raymond said. “Unfortunately the other three events aren’t pulling their own weight.”

Overall, considering Austin’s average team score entering state was 142, Raymond was happy with his team’s effort today.

“You get to the state meet and the scores get a little bit tighter, so usually you see your score go down just a little bit,” he said. “Ours probably stayed about where we’re at. So I was pretty happy with the girls’ performance today.”

Fadness’ effort on the uneven bars was definitely a highlight of the day.

In her performance, Austin’s standout gymnast executed two releases – a move where the gymnast releases her hands off one bar and catches the other bar – a feat rarely attempted and accomplished in one routine.

“She’s worked really hard at bringing her bar set up,” Raymond said of his pupil. “It’s a great set, it’s kind of unique; not a lot of other girls use two release skills and she separates herself with [that].”

Raymond – who’s in his 15th year as Austin’s head coach – was pleased with his team today but also knows it can improve next year.

Besides senior Marissa Bartels, Austin will return its entire team. With a fifth place finish under its belt, the expectations have been raised for next year.

When asked about his team’s goals at state for 2013, Raymond didn’t want to put his team behind the eight ball but admitted that it has to be a championship.

“I think if you can’t say [you can win a championship], you definitely can’t do it; so I guess I have to go on the record and say that,” Raymond said.

“Looking at what we did this year and what we’re bringing back next year, we have to say we want to be at the top of the podium at the end of the year next year,” he added.

Melrose Area High School won the Class A team competition today with a cumulative score of 147.5, unseating defending eight-time champion Perham in the process.

Does this mean other teams will have a better chance of winning the championship now?

“All it does is make a lot more teams hungry,” Raymond said. “Melrose is bringing back a great team next year, so they’ll be the defending champ and the team to beat.”

Although Austin’s team competition is over with, the Packers have four gymnasts participating in Class A individual competition tomorrow.

Fadness and Bickler are two of these individuals. Joining them will be freshman Carolyn Hackel and eighth-grader Logan Tischer.

**I wrote this story for the Rochester Post-Bulletin and Austin Post-Bulletin. It's coverage on the Austin Packers gymnastics team in the Class A State Meet team competition on Friday, Feb. 24 2012 at the University of Minnesota's Sports Pavilion.

**The photos were shot and contributed by Post-Bulletin photographer Joe Michaud-Scorza. Descriptions of the photos (from top-to-bottom) are as follows: Austin sophomore Sela Fadness performing her uneven bars routine, Austin junior Abigayle Snater competing in vault. Please visit Joe's photo blog at joescorza.blogspot.com

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