Dominating return to State

C-I Gymnasts hit season-high score to win Section 7AA

Greg Hunt

Last year’s Section 7AA gymnastics finals was a nail-biter, but Cambridge-Isanti turned this year’s meet into a runaway as they hit a season-high team total of 148.225. The Bluejackets’ defense of the section championship sends them back to the Class AA State Team Championships which should be a tightly-contested affair.

The Jacket girls enter State ranked No. 3 in the final coaches’ poll and finished 3rd at State last year. Top-ranked and defending “AA” champ Northfield won Section 1AA with a 149.9, 2nd-ranked Park of Cottage Grove scored a 148.4 to win Section 2AA, and 4th-ranked Roseville climbed to a 149.5 to win Section 4AA. Rogers and St. Cloud Tech return to the State field, as well.

Senior Emily Vogelpohl focused on her Beam routine while winning the 7AA All-Around title. Photos by Bruce Strand, Elk River Star News

“Northfield, Park, Roseville and we are all scoring very similarly. I think those four teams will score close to each other,” forecast Jacket head coach Wendy Rooney, the 7AA Coach of the Year. “The team that hits the most will most likely win the title.”

A major highlight of her team’s work at the 7AA finals hosted at Elk River Feb. 18 was breaking the team Beam scoring mark for the third time this season (37.375). The Jackets swept all four top spots for State Individuals berths with Nadia Nassif at 9.55, Emily Vogelpohl at 9.45, Anna Solbrack scoring 9.425 and Cheri Evenson at 9.325.

Cambridge-Isanti will open on the beam at State in the first rotation.

“The girls have gained a lot of confidence on beam this year, and it has the potential to be our highest scoring event,” said Coach Rooney. “They’ll need to keep their nerves under control. If they are able to do that, they should start out really strong, which will give them confidence going into the other three events.”

The Jackets opened sections on the Bars which saw Evenson, Vogelpohl and Solbrack placed 2nd-4th. Solbrack won the 7AA Floor with her 9.6, followed closely be medaling Vogelpohl and Evenson. The team had troubles on the Vault, apart from Vogelpohl who placed 1st with a 9.25 and Solbrack placing 2nd at 9.2.

Vogelpohl, Solbrack and Evenson swept the top three All-Around spots in the section. This was the second time in the Bluejackets’ history this was accomplished (first was 2002 with Katie Ballantine, Britt Hegquist and Taylor Debel).

Senior Nadia Nassif, shown here on the Bars, led the Jackets on the Beam with a meet-high 9.55 at Elk River Feb. 18.

If the Jackets can improve those Vault performances in a week, great things could await them at the University of Minnesota Sport Pavilion– host site of the State meet. Class AA Team will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25.

The Class AA Individual & All-Around Championships will then be held Saturday evening, starting at 6 p.m.

• Mississippi 8 partner Becker advanced to the Class A Team finals after holding off another M-8 team, Big Lake, to win the 7A title.

Section 7AA Finals
Team: Cambridge-Isanti 148.225, St. Francis 139.325, Forest Lake 136.775, Elk River-Zimmerman 135.325, Blaine 132.65, Chisago Lakes 132.425, Coon Rapids 128.15, Anoka 111, Andover 58.65.
Bluejacket scores
Vault: Vogelpohl 1st 9.25; Solbrack 2nd 9.2; Evenson 8.875; Ziebarth 8.825; Nassif 8.7.
Bars: Evenson 2nd 9.425; Vogelpohl 3rd 9.4; Solbrack 4th 9.15; Ziebarth 8.8; Nassif 8.75.
Beam: Nassif 1st 9.55; Vogelpohl 2nd 9.45; Solbrack 3rd 9.425; Evenson 4th 9.325; Rooney 7.4.
Floor: Solbrack 1st 9.6; Vogelpohl 3rd 9.35; Evenson 4th 9.325; Rooney 9.275; Ziebarth 9.25.
All-Around:  Vogelpohl 1st 37.45; Solbrack 2nd 37.375; Evenson 3rd 36.95.