Winning with room for growth
The Alexandria gymnastics team is in the good position of picking up wins while still believing there is a lot of room to grow throughout the rest of the season.
The Cardinals improved to 4-1 on Tuesday night as they recorded their second highest point total of the season. They needed all of that as Moorhead pushed them before Alexandria beat the Spuds 133.75-131.7.
“We’re definitely not quite where we were last year, but we’re not as far down in the ranks as we thought we would be,” junior Hannah Wendel said of the team’s start through five meets. “Our first couple meets we had a couple lower scores, but once we start racking up more points in our team score, our ranking is just going to keep going up and up, and hopefully we can boost it up in time to be invited to true team state.”
Wendel gave Alexandria another first-place finish in the all-around against the Spuds with a score of 36.25. She got going with a 9.35 on the vault and a 9.0 on the bars to take first in both events. She fell off the beam once in her next routine and finished second with an 8.4. Wendel said she felt like she let her teammates down, but she bounced right back with an impressive floor routine to take first with a 9.5.
“To nail the floor routine like that was really special,” she said. “I went out on the floor thinking, ‘Well, our second girl got slightly injured, had a rough routine, time for a little bit of redemption for the team.’ I just wanted to put out a solid routine.”
Seventh-grader Jacy Roste suffered an ankle injury on her floor routine and had to be helped off the mat. Junior co-captain Bria Schueler helped make up for that by giving Alexandria another top-five score to work with in that event. She finished fourth with her 8.4, which helped her take fourth in the all-around at 32.05. Schueler also added a sixth-place finish on the beam (7.6), a fifth-place finish on the bars (7.9) and a seventh-place finish on the vault (8.15).
Junior Jana Roste also provided an exciting moment for her team when she stuck her second attempt on the vault. That earned her a third-place finish on the event and a score of 9.05 after landing a tuck suk vault for the first time in a meet after working on it all season.
“We know that Jana worked hard over the summer,” head coach Becca Cederberg said. “She took a lot of tosses, and it was really fun to see her hard work that she did over the summer pay off. She did really help bring our team up on that event, so it was really fun to see.”
Roste went on to add a sixth-place finish in the bars (7.75) and a 10-place finish on the beam (6.5). Anna Spanbauer helped Alexandria dominate the vault with a fourth-place finish (8.55) and Rachel Sjostrand added a fifth-place finish right behind her with an 8.3.
Sophomore Tahlia Bowden added two other top-five finishes for her team. She took fourth on the bars (8.3) and third on the beam with an 8.1 on a night when every 10th of a point mattered for Alexandria as the Cardinals held off the Spuds.
It’s been a bit of a process for this Alexandria team in trying to make up for the loss of Briquelle Bowden from a year ago. Briquelle, the older sister of Tahlia, finished second in the all-around at the Class A state tournament a year ago.
“It’s definitely been an adjustment,” Cederberg said. “Briquelle was a three-year captain, so she brought more to the table than just her amazing skills and ability. She brought a lot of leadership to the group, but I do think we really have some awesome captains this year in Jenna Steffl, who’s a senior, Tayler Kaufman, who’s a senior, and then Bria Schueler, who’s a junior. They all are good captains and bring a lot of positive energy to our team.”
That’s helped this group record four wins in its first five meets. Even in the Cardinals’ loss against Brainerd, they scored a season-high 137.125 points against a good Warriors team. It’s been a strong start to the season for a team that hopes to only improve as the year goes on.
“I feel like there are a lot of corrections and things that the girls know they can make,” Cederberg said. “A lot of landings that they fell on, a lot of beam falls that they know they should be sticking and can stick. They know their potential is a lot higher and just starting to add up those things like staying on the beam and falling on some landings, they know their scores can go up by points and not just 10ths.”
ALEXANDRIA – VAULT – Wendel – first, 9.35; Jana Roste – third, 9.05; Spanbauer – fourth, 8.55; Sjostrand – fifth, 8.3; Schueler – seventh, 8.15
BARS – Wendel – first, 9.0; T. Bowden – fourth, 8.3; Schueler – fifth, 7.9; Jana Roste – sixth, 7.75; Jenna Kremer – ninth, 5.95
BEAM – Wendel – second, 8.4; T. Bowden – third, 8.1; Jana Roste – fourth, 7.95; Schueler – sixth, 7.6; Jacy Roste – 10th, 6.5
FLOOR – Wendel – first, 9.5; Schueler – fourth, 8.4; McKena Thoennes – eighth, 7.65; Spanbauer – ninth, 7.45; Jacy Roste – 10th, 5.85
ALL AROUND – Wendel – first, 36.25; Schueler – fourth, 32.05