For the first time this season, the Rapid City Stevens girls’ gymnastics team put together a full squad, with a full team score.
The result was a third-place finish in its own (along with Rapid City Central) Gym-O-Rama Saturday at the Rapid City High School Annex Gym.
Dickinson, North Dakota, meanwhile, powered its way to another impressive win.
“It was an alright day today. We were pretty pleased that Stevens was able to complete a team, we got an actual team score, so that was awesome,” said Stevens and Central coach Pam Junek.
Dickinson won the meet going away with 149.200 points, with Pierre in second at 135.025. Stevens finished third with 129.950, followed by Hot Springs with 125.375 and Chamberlain with 116.075. Central had just one gymnast compete.
The first of two home meets for Stevens and Central (next week they’ll host Pierre), Junek said it was nice to be home after five meets on the road to start the season.
“As always, gymnasts like to compete in their own gym because they are used to their own equipment,” she said. “People think that it always gives them an advantage, but sometimes it is hard to think about it as an actual meet because they are in their own gym.”
The Raiders had five gymnasts compete Saturday, including the return of senior Shay Trimble, who was making her first appearance of the season.
“Having a team was definitely a benefit for them because they could push each other,” Junek said. “Having Shay back is awesome. She did a really good job today. She will get more experience during her events and she will be building from now until state.”
Trimble finished fourth in the all-around with 34.825 points. She was also third on the floor exercise with 9.6500 points, fifth on the balance beam (8.7000) and sixth on the vault (9.1500).
Junior Emirra Returns placed fourth on the beam (8.8500), tied for seventh on the floor (9.100) and seventh on the all-around (32.400). Senior Maddie Gaughan was ninth in the all-around (31.800), also tying for seventh on the floor (9.100).
“Emirra Returns and Maddie Gaughan, they stepped up some of their things again with good combinations,” Junek said. “They’re building on skills that they have had and adding more skills that they will give them a higher start value, and that helps.”
Reece Lower placed 10th on the balance beam for Central with 8.1500 points.
The Midgets have won their last three state meets and so far this season they haven’t lost to any team in North Dakota. Saturday’s Gym-O-Rama was their best effort of the season, according to longtime coach Ken Van Ells.
“We felt really good and the girls did a really good job,” Van Ells said. “I counted no falls, maybe one at the most. It was a just a really good team for us.”
Although his girls have had a good year, Van Ells said they have had a hard time putting together a good meet – until Saturday.
“That is what was exciting about this one, they hit almost every routine they did. That was something that was really special, for sure,” he said. “The atmosphere here was really great, we love coming here.”
Leading the way once again was junior Ayanna Fossum, who won the all-around with 37.925 points, ahead of teammate Dacia Rambousek, who scored a 36.675.
Fossum, the two-time North Dakota state champion on the floor exercise, won the event Saturday with a dazzling 9.8000, with Rombousek right behind at 9.7250. Rambousek also won the beam at 9.5000, while the Midgets had two other event winners – Meghan Ackerman on the uneven parallel bars (9.4250) and Brinklyn Schumacher on the vault (9..6750).
Van Ells, when asked about the team’s talent, said he wasn’t sure they had more talent than most teams, but they certainly have good talent. He credits the cooperation with the school system and club gymnastics.
“We have a nice building program through the system,” he said. “It makes that the younger girls come up and they are already pretty well prepared when they get on the high school team. They start out experienced and they don’t have to learn on the go.”
Junek said it is fun to see Dickinson in their building once a year with the Gym-O-Rama.
“They challenge us; they push us to be better athletes,” she said. “We always appreciate having them come down here.”
Pierre was led by junior Mikah Moser, who was third in the all-around (36.675) and Meg Erwin, who was fifth in the all-around (33.425). Moser, who competed at Stevens before moving to Pierre a couple of seasons ago, was also third on the bars (9.7250), fourth on the vault (9.3500), fifth on the floor (9.3750) and sixth on the beam (8.6750).
For Hot Springs, senior Tierra Schroeder was sixth in the all-around (32.825) and eighth-grader Jaylen Nachtigall was eighth in the all-around (32.175). Schroeder had two Top 10 finishes, eighth on the vault (8.7250) and ninth on the bars (7.8250), while Nachtigall was 10th on the vault (8.570).
The Raiders and Cobblers host Pierre Saturday at noon, Hot Springs hosts its own invitational Friday and Chamberlain is at the Deuel Invitational on Saturday.