OAK PARK HEIGHTS — Seeking its first conference championship in more than 15 years, the Stillwater gymnastics team was stopped by a familiar obstacle in its Suburban East Conference finale.
Roseville, which has won eight state championships in the past 11 years, turned back the Ponies 146.125-145.2 in a showdown of unbeaten conference teams on Thursday, Feb. 9 at Stillwater Area High School.
It was the fifth highest score of the season — in 10 events — for Stillwater (7-1 SEC, 7-1), which is expected to battle the Raiders again when they meet in the Section 4AA Meet on Saturday, Feb. 18 at North St. Paul.
“The loss is disappointing, but the meet was a good set-up for our section meet coming on Saturday,” Ponies coach Traci Swenson said. “We’re hoping for a big group of Pony fans in the stands to support our girls.”
The Ponies outscored Roseville by more than 2.5 points combined in the vault and floor exercise, but the Raiders held a more than 2-point advantage in the bars and a nearly 1.5-point edge in the bars.
Isabel Bartosh set the pace for Stillwater with a 9.5 and teammates Danielle Keran and Gretchen Sharp followed with matching 9.4s. Sami Chang completed the scoring with a 9.25 — a total bettered by only one Roseville gymnast.
“We started with a great vault rotation,” Swenson said. “All of our vaulters are getting more height and distance from the table as they have gotten more confident with their pike tsuks. Isabel also has improved her layout vault, which has a 10.0 start value.”
It was Roseville’s turn in the bars and beam, however, which have consistently been Stillwater’s lower scoring events throughout the season. Sharp (9.05) and Keran (8.975) delivered the top scores for the Ponies in the bars, but Roseville held a solid advantage on the strength of Olivia Rosenow (9.725) and Jessica Strecker (9.4).
Sharp (9.525) and Keran (9.45) delivered strong scores in the beam, but Roseville again held a comfortable margin in the event thanks to Strecker (9.625), Rosenow (9.55) and Kayla Soplata (9.525).
“We had a couple of struggles on bars, leading to a lower score there than we can get,” Swenson said. “We also counted a fall on beam.”
The Ponies finished strong in the floor with four scores at 9.25 or higher. Bartosh led the way with a score of 9.475 while Keran (9.4) and Chang (9.375) were not far behind. Peyton Classon also contributed a 9.25.
The Raiders posted three scores in the 9s, but Stillwater’s throwaway score of 9.2 from Sharp matched Kirsten Zuppan’s team-high score of 9.2 for Roseville.
“We ended the night with an outstanding floor set,” Swenson said. “Everyone really delivered with clean routines, not giving the judges any room for deductions.”
It was a difficult loss for a program that was seeking its first conference title since 2001, but the Ponies are also in a strong position to qualify for its first state meet since 2012.
“Roseville had a great meet, sticking all of their beam routines, for example,” Swenson said.
Keran (37.225) outdistanced Roseville’s Rosenow (37.2) by a narrow margin to win the all-around while Sharp followed in third with a total of 37.175.
Roseville 146.125, Stillwater 145.2
Vault (Stillwater 37.55) — Isabel Bartosh 9.5, Danielle Keran 9.4, Gretchen Sharp 9.4, Sami Chang 9.25 and Peyton Classon 9.2.
Uneven bars (Stillwater 34.275) — Gretchen Sharp 9.05, Danielle Keran 8.975, Isabel Bartosh 8.15, Corrie Hale 8.1 and Peyton Classon 8.075.
Beam (Stillwater 35.875) — Gretchen Sharp 9.525, Danielle Keran 9.45, Sami Chang 8.525, Isabel Bartosh 8.375 and Rachel Murphy 8.075.
Floor (Stillwater 37.5) — Isabel Bartosh 9.475, Danielle Keran 9.4, Sami Chang 9.375, Peyton Classon 9.25 and Gretchen Sharp 9.2.
All-around — 1. Danielle Keran (St) 37.225; 2. Olivia Rosenow (Ros) 37.2; 3. Gretchen Sharp 37.175; 4. Jessica Strecker (Ros) 36.825; 5. Kayla Soplata (Ros) 35.9; 6. Isabel Bartosh (St) 35.5.
Stillwater JV prevails
The Stillwater gymnastics team completed an undefeated Suburban East Conference season with a victory in the JV conference meet on Saturday, Feb. 11 at Roseville. The Ponies outscored East Ridge 133.15-129.55 while Roseville followed in third with a score of 129.15.
“Our JV girls had a strong meet, going into the meet undefeated in the SEC and staying that way with a win,” Swenson said.
Stillwater posted three of the top four all-around scores, led by Kenzie Truhlsen at 33.95. Corrie Hale (32.8) and Rachel Murphy (32.75) followed in third and fourth for the Ponies. Forest Lake’s Sydney Nenn won the all-around with a score of 34.9.
Truhlsen and Linnea Rustad each received scores of 8.75 to lead the Ponies in the vault while Hale led the way in the bars with a score of 8.3. Truhlsen also led the Ponies in the beam (8.55) and the floor (8.65).
“We had five seniors competing in the meet,” Swenson said, referring to Emma Carlson, Hannah Haslach, Murphy, Rustad and Haley Tholen. “All have been on our team for years, and this was likely the final meet of their careers. It can be emotional when the girls know this, but they all were amazing and had outstanding performances.
“The conference win was exciting and we are all so proud of our JV team being so strong. There are many varsity teams that are not as strong as our JV, which is amazing.”