WMHS gymnasts poised for another big season

The highlights for the Watertown-Mayer High School gymnastics team last year were almost too numerous to count.

The Royals went a perfect 10-0 in duals. They had seven gymnasts earn either all-state or honorable-mention all-state recognition. They sent two gymnasts to the state all-around competition, where one of them even earned a second-place finish on an event final. They even broke the 19-year-old school record for most team points in a meet.

But what was the most impressive part of the Royals unprecedented success last year? Possibly the fact that they accomplished it all without a single senior on the roster.

The Royals will reap the rewards this year, when the varsity lineup returns entirely intact, with all seven regular varsity gymnasts returning. That includes Brooke Leaf, Caitlin Duske, Megan McCain, Tina Scanlon and Katie Heilman, who all earned all-state honors in at least one event last year — based on achieving a certain score — and Ally Matrella and Caitlin Kammerer, who each earned honorable-mention all-state recognition.

Certainly, the Royals appear primed for another stellar season in which the record books likely better be prepared to see some more erasure marks. However, head coach Steve Hangartner said he wants to make sure his team doesn’t feel too much pressure this year.

Once again, the Royals will not be in a conference. They were asked to leave the Wright County Conference prior to last season, one year after winning the conference title. Most of the Royals other teams had left for the Minnesota River Conference by that point, but the MRC does not have gymnastics.

So, once again, the Royals’ goals will be entirely focused on the state tournament. Sending individuals to the state tournament once again appears likely, but with defending state champion and perennial powerhouse New Prague once again in the Royals’ section, qualifying for state as a team will be a challenge, but not an impossible one. Making it to both true team state — as the Royals did last year — and to team state, which they fell just shy of last year, are both written on the walls of the team’s gym as goals this season.

The Royals got an early taste of action last Thursday, Dec. 5, when they traveled to Rockford for a dual meet and cruised to a 135.325 to 118.75 win. Duske took the top spot in the all-around with a score of 33.9, and McCain was second at 33.025.

The Royals won all four events as well, with three different gymnasts tallying an event win. Duske won two events, scoring an 8.7 on balance beam and a 9.35 on vault. She was also second on the uneven bars with a score of 7.675 and she was fifth on floor exercise with a score of 8.175.

Leaf won floor exercise with a score of 9.125, while Scanlon took fourth with an 8.725 and McCain was fourth with an 8.55. Scanlon finished first on the uneven bars with a score of 8.15, while Duske was second, McCain was third with a 7.475 and Kammerer was fifth with a 7.4.

On balance beam, in addition to Duske’s win, McCain took second with a score of 8.65, Leaf was third at 8.025 and Kammerer was fourth at 7.95. And on vault, Scanlon finished right behind Duske to finish second with a 9.05, while Heilman was third at 9.0.

The Royals also competed at an invitational at Northfield on Saturday, Dec. 7, but results were not immediately available, and will be published next week. Also, because not all three seniors were present at practice late last week, look for the picture of this year’s seniors to run in a future week.

The Royals will return to action at noon on Saturday, Dec. 14, for the Prior Lake Invitational. The Royals will also compete in a dual meet at Glencoe-Silver Lake at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 17.