Royals’ Duske, Leaf qualify for state all-around

Brooke Leaf qualified for the state all-around competition during last Friday night's section meet at Watertown-mayer High School.

Brooke Leaf qualified for the state all-around competition during last Friday night’s section meet at Watertown-mayer High School.

The Watertown-Mayer gymnastics team had its eyes on a possible section championship this year, but a masterful performance from New Prague last Friday night at Watertown-Mayer High School made that all but impossible.

The Trojans won the Section 2A meet on Feb. 15 with a remarkable score of 148.675, running away from the field in the 11-team meet. Watertown-Mayer finished second at 141.875, while nobody else at the meet broke 139. Waconia was third at 138.875.

While the Royals fell short of a state berth as a team, they did have two individuals qualify for the Class A state all-around competition this weekend at the University of Minnesota by finishing in the top four at the section meet. Leaf finished third with a score of 35.25, and Caitlin Duske was fourth at 35.075.

Waconia’s Alexanna Gluck won the section all-around title with a score of 36.475, and New Prague’s Jaime Niedermayer was second with at 36.325. Watertown-Mayer’s Megan McCain fell just short of the top four, placing sixth with a strong score of 34.95.

In addition to qualifying for the state in the all-around, Duske qualified in two individual events as well, even winning a section vault title with a score of 9.75. That is the second-highest score in Watertown-Mayer history, just 0.2 points off of Dani Pallas’ state record.

“She has the potential to do really well at the state meet,” Watertown-Mayer coach Steve Hangartner said. “Her all around score has really come up all year. She’s an ideal gymnast an very coachable.”

At state, Duske will compete in all four events as part of the all-around competition, but will also be in the running to place specifically on vault, as well as on floor exercise, where she tied for third at the section meet with a score of 9.4.

Leaf also had a 9.4 on the floor exercise, the same as Duske and tied for second overall, but she ultimately placed fifth based on tiebreakers. Still, she be making her third consecutive trip to the state meet as part of the all-around competition.

“It was amazing that Brooke was able to do as we’ll as she did, because she hadn’t worked out much for two weeks because of a hip flexer injury,” Hangartner said. “She was very determined and never gave up. She’s a very smart gymnast.”

The Royals’ Tina Scanlon fared quite well in two events for the Royals, but fell short of a state berth. She was sixth on the uneven bars with a score of 8.6 and seventh on vault with a 9.275.

McCain, in her sixth-place all-around finish, was seventh on bars with an 8.5, 10th on floor (9.15), tied for 13th on vault (9.0) and 22nd on balance beam with an 8.3.

Caitlin Kammerer competed on only one event for the Royals — balance beam — but she made the most of it. She scored on 8.8 to finish in seventh place.

Other notable finishes for the Royals included Katie Heilman, who was part of a three-way tie for eighth on vault at 9.25, tied for eighth on bars with an 8.475. She also was 20th on floor exercise with a score of 8.575, one spot behind teammate Ally Matrella, who was 19th with a score of 8.6.

The state gymnastics meet is Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22 and 23, at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis. The Class AA and Class A competitions are Friday, while Duske and Leaf will be competing for the Royals on Saturday as part of the Class A all-around and individual event competitions. That meet gets under way at 11 a.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students.

Contact Matt Bunke at [email protected]

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