VHS gymnastics team earns second place title at state meet

VHS gymnastics team earns second place title at state meet by Jim Prosser The Tanager gymnastics team placed second in the South Dakota Class A Championships on Friday, Feb. 20 at Huron, scoring 126.87 points.

The tournament consisted of team competition on Friday and individual competition on Saturday with medals presented to the top 15 placers in each event.

Vermillion medalists in the following events were:

All Around: First � Ariel Hofman; and 12th � Sarah Christopherson.

Uneven Bars: Second � Christopherson; and fifth � Hofman.

Beam: First � Hofman.

Floor: Fifth � Hofman.

Vault: Third (tie) � Hofman and Christopherson.

Tanagers scoring well were:

Balance beam: 27th � Sarah Gregg; 32nd � Christopherson; 52nd � Katie Connors.

Uneven bars: Brittney Gilkyson � 21st, Connors � 27th.

Floor: Connors � 30th.

Vault: 25th � Gilkyson; 30th � Connors.

Coach Mark Upward also wanted to recognize two other contributors to the team but who were not eligible for individual places. Eighth-graders Bethany Sand and Ariel Begley were first-time participants in the state meet.

The Vermillion Tanager gymnastics team showed tremendous courage during the Friday night team competition as they survived five falls (three on beam, one on floor, and one on bars).

After the first rotation, which saw the Tanagers starting on the floor exercise, they were fifth in the field of nine teams. The Tanagers were in second place after the second rotation, leading the third place team, Chamberlain, by 3 points.

The Tanagers were able to perform well enough on their final event, the uneven parallel bars, to hold off a hard-charging Chamberlain team. The Tanagers' score of 31.5 on the unevens was good enough to stop Chamberlain from moving into the second place spot.

"We looked good at practice on Thursday and were well prepared for the state meet," Upward said. "The girls were tremendous this weekend."

The Tanagers fell off a little from their Region 2A performance from the week before, scoring .234 less.

"If we had matched our region performance, Madison would still have won the meet," Upward quipped. "They were the best team at the State A competition."

The team scores for the state meet were:

1. Madison � Vault 33.750; Bars 32.984; Beam 32.133; Floor 33.500; Total 132.37.

2. Vermillion � Vault 33.483; Bars 31.500; Beam 31.133; Floor 30.750; Total 126.87.

3. Chamberlain � Vault 33.400; Bars 30.467; Beam 29.017; Floor 32.916; Total 125.80.

4. Milbank � Vault 32.167; Bars 31.433; Beam 29.066; Floor 31.967; Total 124.63.

5. Wagner � Vault 32.833; Bars 30.883; Beam 28.167; Floor 31.401; Total 123.33.

6. Britton-Hecla � Vault 32.553; Bars 29.799; Beam 29.200; Floor 31.633; Total 123.17.

7. Hot Springs � Vault 32.917; Bars 27.517; Beam 31.833; Floor 30.666; Total 122.93.

8. Clark � Vault 31.500; Bars 30.533; Beam 26.599; Floor 30.649; Total 119.28.

9. Stanley Co. � Vault 30.750; Bars 27.434; Beam 24.466; Floor 28.450; Total 111.10.

Vermillion Tanagers with personal best routines during team day included Begley on floor (7.267), Gilkyson on vault (8.350), and Sand (7.717) on the vault.

"I was extremely pleased with finishing second," Upward said. "I was very impressed with the gutsy performance of our girls this weekend."

Connors continued on for two days after she strained her injured ankle on Friday. Christopherson strained her knee during warm ups on Friday and, she too, had an ice pack strapped on her knee all weekend. Finally, Hofman twisted her ankle during warm ups right before the individual competition on Saturday and she had to modify her floor routine.

The individual competition on Saturday saw the Vermillion Tanagers take several honors. Christopherson placed 12th in the All-Around competition and second in the uneven bars. Christopherson's score for second place in the bars was .09 out of first place. Christopherson also placed third on the vault with a score of 8.53.

Gregg, Region 2A beam champion, suffered two falls on the beam during Saturday's individual competition, scoring a 7.25. Gregg had been a rock solid beam performer for the Tanagers all season long. Her score of 7.25 placed her 27th on the beam.

Gilkyson had a season best vault, which placed her 25th in vault, and a 21st place finish, with her score of 7.65, on the unevens.

Senior Connors, suffering from her ankle sprain, still managed to finish 30th on floor and 30th on vault, and 27th on bars.

The highlight of the weekend was the performance put on by eighth-grader Hofman.

She finished fifth on the floor exercise, third on the vault, third on the uneven bars, and was the balance beam champion with a winning score of 9.08. Hofman's score of 34.45 was the best of the field in the class A All-Around competition.

Hofman's performance earned her a place on the All Tournment gymnastics team.

"I am very proud of what our team has accomplished this year," Upward said. "They deserve recognition for their efforts."

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