MARSHALL - Freshmen phenoms, a modern-day medical miracle and steady-scoring specialists earned the Martin County Area Magic gymnasts their eighth sectional team championship over the last 10 seasons.
Freshman Bryanna Peterson and senior standout Rebecca Steen produced a potent 1-2 showing in the all-around competition on Saturday, while freshman Martha Olson vaulted to a silver medal to power the Magic's winning ways during the Section 3A Meet in Marshall.
Peterson and Steen proved the only all-arounders to clear the 36-point plateau to help Martin County Area dethrone two-time sectional team champion Jackson County Central, 140.65-137.925.
ALL-AROUND PUNCH — Martin County Area senior gymnast Rebecca Steen, shown preparing to execute a maneuver on the balance beam during regular-season action in Welcome, returned to action by capturing second place in the Section 3A Meet’s all-around competition on Saturday in Marshall to help guide the Magic to a state team bid. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
ALL-AROUND PUNCH — Martin County Area freshman Bryanna Peterson, shown striking a pose during regular-season action in Welcome, won the Section 3A all-around championship on Saturday in Marshall to help lead the Magic to the Class A state team meet. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Martin County Area advances to compete in the Class A state team meet at 11 a.m. Friday at the University of Minnesota's Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis.
"Who would have guessed seven weeks ago, with the devastating injuries that we experienced up to that juncture of the season, that we'd be standing here today as section champions," Magic mentor LeeAnn Steen said in reference to senior sensation Beraiah Peterson's broken leg and Rebecca Steen's neck fracture. "I guess everything happens for a reason, although we don't think that at the time."
Indeed. After Beraiah Peterson suffered her injury during a dual meet with Windom/Mountain Lake on Dec. 10, Rebecca Steen fractured the C7 vertebrae in her neck at practice during Christmas break, Bryanna Peterson shouldered the team's all-around duties.
Peterson, who had competed in the club circuit for numerous seasons before joining the Magic's high school roster this winter, made her Section 3A Meet debut in grand style on Saturday.
Peterson produced 36.475 points to strike gold in the all-around, while Steen miraculously recovered from a likely season-ending injury in only seven weeks to generate 36.05 points to earn the section's silver medal.
"Becca has been competing in gymnastics her whole life and it's become second nature to her," said LeeAnn Steen. "After getting the doctor's clearance, she knew she had to go for it today, as all of our kids did.
"Deciding which of our specialists, who had done such a great job in Becca's absence during the season, that they wouldn't compete today was one of the toughest decisions that I've ever had to make during my coaching career. I'm grateful that our gymnasts and their families are so supportive of this program, proving that today's section championship is truly a team win."
Ironically, Peterson generated her other gold-medal performance on the uneven parallel bars by executing her inward giants to perfection to put the finishing touches on Martin County Area's team triumph during the sectional meet's last rotation.
The Magic needed to average eight points per counting gymnast on the unevens to eclipse runner-up JCC and third-place Worthington (137.375), and Andrea Thate and Briana Gratz did exactly that out of the second and third spots in the rotation.
After Thate generated an 8.1 and Gratz tallied a 7.9, Steen and Peterson put the sectional team crown in the Martin County Area trophy case.
Steen, who captured the sectional vault title with a 9.3 earlier in the competition, looked nearly flawless in swinging her giants to earn an 8.875 to place third behind Peterson (9.25) and Hendricks/Russell-Tyler-Ruthton's Hailey Teske (9.05).
Peterson, Steen and Martha Olson combined for nine sectional medals via top-six showings and eight spots in Saturday's 11 a.m. Class A individual state meet at the U of M's Sports Pavilion.
Olson blocked off the table, rotated and landed her initial Tsuk to earn second-place vault honors with a 9.225 to join Steen on the event at state.
Peterson earned the silver medal on the balance beam with a 9.35 to join JCC's Bailey Schneekloth in the individual state competition. Schneekloth won the sectional crown with a 9.4-scored performance.
Steen, who captured a sixth-place medal on the beam, claimed her fourth individual state bid on Saturday by tumbling her way to a bronze medal on the floor at 9.175.
Worthington's Paige Kinley, who claimed fifth in the all-around with a 34.875, won the floor with a 9.2, while JCC's Brooklyn Schuett captured the silver medal via the superior judge's criteria with a 9.175.
Teske and teammate Greta Johnson packed a solid 3-4 scoring punch in the all-around - 35.775 and 34.95, respectively - to pace Hendricks/RTR's fourth-place team showing of 131.975.
Kinley and Johnson will join the Magic's Steen and Olson in the state vault competition, while Teske and Kinley round out Section 3's representatives on the unevens in Minneapolis.
Worthington's Liz Hayenga and Teske will join Schneekloth and Peterson on the state beam, while Johnson rounds out the sectional quartet also consisting of Kinley, Schuett and Steen on the floor.
Sydney Leichtnam and Peterson supplied an 8.85 and an 8.825, respectively, to the Magic's meet-best event score of 36.2 on the vault, while Lexy Ringnell tallied an 8.65 and Brielle Meade chipped in an 8.55 to complete MCA's counting marks on the floor (35.425). Mackenzie Betts chalked up an 8.45, while Maiya Dietz netted an 8.4 to complete the Magic's counting marks on the beam.
2014 Section 3A
At Marshall H.S.
Team Standings (Champion advances to state): 1. Martin County Area 140.65; 2. Jackson County Central 137.925; 3. Worthington 137.375; 4. Hendricks/Russell-Tyler-Ruthton 131.975; 5. Windom/Mountain Lake 130.675; 6. Luverne 126.4; 7. Pipestone Area 118.025; 8. Marshall 115.875; 9. Redwood Valley 112.525; 10. St. James 101.525.
(Top 6 medalists; Top 4 advance to state)
All-Around: 1. Bryanna Peterson (MCA) 36.475; 2. Rebecca Steen (MCA) 36.05; 3. Hailey Teske (HRTR) 35.775; 4. Greta Johnson (HRTR) 34.95; 5. Paige Kinley (WOR) 34.875; 6. Taylor Eggers (WOR) 34.45.
Vault: 1. Rebecca Steen (MCA) 9.3; 2. Martha Olson (MCA) 9.225; 3. Kinley (WOR) 9.1; 4. G. Johnson (HRTR) 9.05; 5. Eggers (WOR) 8.95; 6. Liz Hayenga (WOR) 8.9.
Other MCA scores: Sydney Leichtnam 8.85; Peterson 8.825; Mackenzie Betts 8.75.
Uneven Parallel Bars: 1. Bryanna Peterson (MCA) 9.25; 2. Teske (HRTR) 9.05; 3. Steen (MCA) 8.875; 4. Kinley (WOR) 8.875; 5. G. Johnson (HRTR) 8.65; 6. Madison Schandelmeier (LUV) 8.3.
Other MCA scores: Andrea Thate 8.1; Briana Gratz 7.9; Michaela Twitchell 7.725.
Balance Beam: 1. Bailey Schneekloth (JCC) 9.4; 2. Peterson (MCA) 9.35; 3. Hayenga (WOR) 8.95; 4. Teske (HRTR) 8.75; 5. Brielle Scheepstra (JCC) 8.725; 6. Steen (MCA) 8.7.
Other MCA scores: Betts 8.45; Maiya Dietz 8.4; Brooklyn Leichtnam 7.85.
Floor Exercise: 1. Paige Kinley (WOR) 9.2; 2. (by judge's criteria) Brooklyn Schuett (JCC) 9.175; 3. Steen (MCA) 9.175; 4. G. Johnson (HRTR) 9.15; 6. Teske (HRTR) 9.1.
Other MCA scores: Peterson 9.05; Lexy Ringnell 8.65; Brielle Meade 8.55; Olson 7.9.