Three Saints, one Bengal qualify for state gymnastics

Three St. Francis gymnasts will compete in the Class AA State Gymnastics meet next weekend after scoring top-four places in their respective disciplines as the Fighting Saints finished third in the team stands which was won by section-host Cambridge-Isanti Feb. 15.

The Bluejackets (136.9 points) captured the team title by 1.025 points over Forest Lake (135.975) and third-place St. Francis scored 134.675.

St. Francis' Mackenzie Walsh St. Francis' Katie Bownik St. Francis' Mackenzie Walsh
St. Francis' Mackenzie Walsh

St. Francis senior Mackenzie Walsh won the floor exercise and placed fourth on the vault.

Saints coach Jessica Bottelson said her floor routine has been top-notch all season and they worked on perfecting the little things that would impress the judges the most. “The jumps and dance in her routine are what she improved on the most for sections,” Bottelson said.

Saints freshman Natalie Wasche was second on the vault after continuing to execute impressive tuck tsuks all season. “Which is a new skill for her,” Bottelson said. “All she needed to do at sections was continue to land and go for the stick. She was very close to the stick and as soon as she can do that her vault will be flawless.”

Senior Katie Bownik was third on the floor exercise and fourth on the uneven parallel bars. Bownik was 30th on the bars at state last season with a score of 8.1625.

Bottelson said Bownik consistently made strides on both apparatus’ and put together one of her best routines of the season when it mattered most, at sections. “She mainly learned to control her high-level skills,” Bottelson said.

Bengal to represent
Blaine junior Julia Hoffman was fourth on the balance beam and will make her first trip to state with an 8.85 score. She posted a season-high 9.1 in the same gym a few weeks back at the All-Around Invitational at Cambridge-Isanti.

Blaine/Andover first-year coach Molly Platisha said Hoffman had a slight pause in her routine which lowered her score, slightly. “She is extremely poised and when she hits everything, it makes for an awesome routine,” Platisha said. “[Hoffman] has been working on upgrading some of her jumps and other tricks and everything has come together at the right time toward the end of the season. With beam, it’s all about staying on [the beam] and connecting the elements. Julia really fought for it and am so proud of her and all of her hard work.”

Team results: Blaine was fifth (126.15); Coon Rapids was sixth (117.2); Anoka was seventh (99.6) and Andover was eighth (88.225).

The state gymnastics meet is at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion Feb. 22-23. Individual Class AA competition is set for Feb. 23 from 6-9 p.m.