Tanager’s place second in Winter Wonderland tournament

Tanager's place second in Winter Wonderland tournament
The gym at the Vermillion High School was decorated with lights, flowers and a Christmas tree as eight teams competed in the ninth annual Winter Wonderland gymnastics invitational. A nice crowd was on hand as the eight teams fought for top honors.

The Vermillion Tanagers held onto second place. Winning the tournament was Britton with a score of 127.35 points. Vermillion was second with 120.5. The rest of the field was close as Milbank placed third with 120 points, Stanley County, fourth with 117.8 points, Chamberlain, fifth, 116.2 points, Wagner, sixth with, 112.45 points, West Central, seventh, 94.5 points and Kadoka in eight place with a score of 76.45.

"We were in fifth place after two rotations," said Coach Upward. "We had bars and vault left so we had to hit our routines in order to move up." The highest place finisher in the uneven parallel bars event was Elly Melby. Melby placed tenth on the unevens with a score of 7.7 points.

The Tanagers didn't get a season high performance on any event at the invitational, including bars and vault. However, the teams ahead of Vermillion still had the beam event left in the last two rotations. The Tanagers had a very solid performance on the vault which allowed the tanagers to move up to second place. The Tanagers placed three vaulters in the top ten with Amber Walker leading the way as she placed fourth with an 8.6. Walker was followed by Heather Zimmerman in seventh with 8.4 and Melby in ninth with 8.35.

"We just didn't look as sharp as we can," said Upward. "We have a team capable of scoring 130 points this year. We will just have to add more difficulty in some areas and clean up our routines in others so we can achieve a 130."

As usual, the tournament ended with a handstand contest in which the winners in each division received a Teddy Bear. The overall champion received a Teddy Bear and a silver plate with the engraving that declares her the champion for the tournament.

Each division winner was, seventh and eight grade – Kylie Rufer, Milbank, 39.13 seconds, ninth grade – Amber Walker, Vermillion, 38.06 seconds, tenth grade – Ramy Hagen, Britton-Helca, 27.66 seconds, eleventh – Kyla VanDenHemel, Stanley County, 50.59 seconds, twelfth grade – Amanda Jones, Britton-Hecla, 1:08.18 seconds, Alumni, Sarah Christopherson, Vermillion, 35.6 seconds.

As a final activity at the meet, each judge, gymnast and coach was given a homemade ornament as a remembrance of the day. Coach upward and his wife, Marianne, make an ornament each year that participants can use as souvenir from each of the Winter Wonderland tournaments in which they have competed.

Vermillion Individual Stats, Beam: DeNell Dykstra, fifth-place, 7.6; Amber Walker, fifth-place, 7.6. Floor Exercise: Raychel Lorenz, sixth-place, 7.95; Amber Walker, eight-place, 7.85. Bars: Elly Melby, tenth-place, 7.7. Vault: Amber Walker, fourth-place, 8.6; Heather Zimmerman, seventh-place, 8.4; Elly Melby, eight-place, 8.35. All-Round: Elly Melby, seventh-place, 30.8; Amber Walker, tenth-place, 30.25.

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