Computer-animated films, Google, the Minnesota Wild and Twitter did not yet exist when the Elk River gymnastics team last competed as a team at the Minnesota state gymnastics tournament.

For the first time since 1994, the Elks graced the biggest stage in Minnesota gymnastics to conclude their 2019-20 season. No. 5 Elk River finished eighth among the eight teams that competed at the Class 2A state meet on Feb. 21 at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul. The Elks finished with a score of 143.575, 6.4 points behind first-place No. 1 Lakeville North, who finished with a score of 149.975. It was Lakeville North’s second-consecutive title and third since 2017.

Head coach Jennifer Bartlett said the Elks had fun but wished Elk River was higher up in the standings.

“We have room for growth,” Bartlett said. “We only graduate one routine [gymnast] out of 20, so we’re looking forward to next season when we can come back and accomplish what our goals were.”

After Elk River was announced as the eighth-place finisher, fans who drove more than 45 minutes from Elk River to St. Paul applauded the Elks for their efforts, knowing that they will not have to wait another 26 years for the Elks to return to Minnesota’s biggest stage.

Three Elks finish in top 25 in individual competition

Three Elk River gymnasts: freshman Jaelyn Sorenson and sophomores Zoey Johnson and Abby Rekstad, finished among the top 25 in the state during the individual competition on Feb. 22 at Roy Wilkins Auditorium.

Sophomore Zoey Johnson tied for fourth place on balance beam with Sartell-St. Stephen’s Marley Michaud score of 9.525. Johnson and Michaud, as well as all other gymnasts who finished in sixth place or higher, received medals for their performances. In addition to Johnson’s fourth-place medal, sophomore Abby Rekstad finished in seventh place with a score of 9.4875 and freshman Jaelyn Sorenson finished 22nd with a score of 9.2.

Johnson said it was a cool accomplishment to finish amongst the top five in the state. 

“It’s cool to be a part of that,” Johnson said. “I hope to get more skills and be even more confident for next year.”

Sorenson finished 17th on floor with a score of 9.45. Rekstad finished 40th in vault with a score of 9.4. Sophomore Ava Cole also competed for Elk River and finished 37th on the uneven parallel bars with a score of 8.7875. 

What’s next

Elk River’s 2019-20 season is over. It was the Elks’ most successful season since making the state tournament in 1993-94.

Bartlett said that Elk River will be a forced to be reckoned with for the next few years. 

“We’re the talk of the state right now and we’re a team to watch because we’re so young,” she said. “These kids have talent. Yesterday [the 21st], they were a little timid, now we’ve got goals set for next year and the next couple of years. I think going forward, they’ve got a fire lit underneath them that they want the Elks to be known.”

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