Gymnasts will have ‘home advantage’ at regionals

Vermillions Amber Walker competes in the vault during a Vermillion-Yankton gymnastics dual last month. (Photo by Clay Stoddard/P&D)

If there is such a thing as a "home equipment advantage" in gymnastics, the Vermillion gymnasts will have it when the regional meet is held next week.

The Tanagers will host the Region 2A meet on Thursday evening, Feb. 10, at the VHS gym with Madison, Wagner and West Central coming to comprise the four-team field.

The goal of each team is to finish as high as possible, of course, but at least to not finish last. That is because the top three teams among the four advance their full teams to the state meet's Class "A" team competition in Watertown in the late afternoon of Feb. 18. The four best scores in each event for each school are used to determine the team's total.

Gymnasts can also qualify for the state meet as individuals, and the Tanagers' talented senior duo of Amber Walker and Elly Melby have already done that as all-around contestants at the state meet on the evening of Feb. 19.

In any one of the four individual events at next week's regional here, the top 50 percent of the scores qualify for the state meet in that particular event. The top five all-around contestants also qualify as well as any other gymnast who meets the 31.0 qualifying standard score.

Madison is unquestionably the favorite to capture the Region 2A team title because that's what Madison does. The Bulldogs have won 16 consecutive state "A" team championships. The last team other than Madison to win a state crown was Vermillion in 1994 after also winning it the previous season.

Besides Madison's 16 state championships, Vermillion is next in line with nine, the Tanagers having also won five in a row from 1982 through 1986 and two more in 1988 and 1989. The next highest number of state titles after those two schools is Spearfish with three.

It is interesting to note that Vermillion still has more state individual champions than any other "A" school with 51, but Madison is a close second with 49. It's a long way down to the next highest number Deuel High School with 13.

Coach Mark Upward's Tanager gymnasts were scheduled to have a regional tune-up against two of the other three Region 2A teams, Wagner and West Central, at Wagner Monday night, but the oncoming storm forced at least postponement of that triangular. Upward said he was hopeful it could be rescheduled so that he could get one more score in each event from each of his gymnasts before the do-or-die regional next week.

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