Owatonna Gymnasts Leaping for the Gold
Owatonna enters the state gymnastics meet on Saturday with high goals. The Huskies still have several gymnasts that were part of the third place team at state two years ago, which was Owatonna's third straight third place finish.
OHS isn't surprised to be going to state, but coach Evan Moe is a bit shocked that the balance beam has made the different this season. In fact, at sections Farminton won three of the four events. But Owatonna won beam by enough to outscore the Tigers by about a point overall, "That really was, and has been, our strong point this year," said Moe.
Among the teams at state, Moe thinks OHS has one of the top two average scores on the beam. It's become a focus of his in recent years, "When it was Tom (Smith's) last year I took beam and grew to love it. I've pride in the fact that our beam has become so strong."
Moe looks at Sartell-St. Stephen, Stillwater and Owatonna as the likely top three teams with Eagan right there too. The others in the Class AA field including New Prague, Forest Lake, Wayzata, and Elk River/Zimmerman. The meet is Saturday, March 27 at Champlin Park High School and is split into two performance pods. OHS competes at 6 pm.
Moe says a couple of factors that could carry OHS to the title are "three, four five sticks (on beam) need to happen. And then also a strong bars...Our bars is average. But if we have a really good bar rotation, like a 36 or so, I think that really help push us over that hump that we need to get to."
Senior captain Lucy Macius is a veteran of state, having gone every year since eighth grade. She wants to see the younger teammates stay calm, "At the bigger meets, nerves are definitely there. When you're younger, you definitely get really nervous. It's a pretty big meet...I try to tell them to enjoy the moment." Macius has qualified in the beam individually.
Senior captain Lindsay Bangs says the team has really jelled, "We've really been each others biggest supporters. Without having fans we have to cheer extra loud and support each even more than normal." Bangs is battling a knee injury, but hopes to compete in all the events on Saturday. She sees Owatonna's success continuing into the future, "I think it's really impressive that we made it this far. And I think even with Lucy and I gone, they're still going to keep pushing really hard. They could still make it to state these next couple of years."
Eighth grader Halle Theis had expressed surprise last year to qualifying for state individually on the vault. She's back in that event again this year, "I'm pretty nervous but at the same time I'm excited just because I have done it before." She says she went too hard on her routine last year and over-rotated on her first pass, "This year I'm hoping I can stick it and get a better score." Theis won the vault at sections with a personal best 9.575.
Freshman Emma Johnson is in her first year on the varsity and is enjoying it, "We have doing our stuff good at practice. We are always working hard." She qualified individually on the bars, "I had a clean routine and did everything I could, the best I could." She also competes on the floor exercise.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Cobban has qualified individually in beam and bars. For her beam, "I do front walkovers and a back tuck." On the bars, "I connected everything and I didn't tap my feet on the ground and I did a good handstand."