While it wasn’t the way any of the Elk River seniors wanted to end the home portion of their gymnastics careers, the Elks capped off Senior Night 2021 with a win over a Northwest Suburban Conference rival.
No. 4 Elk River (5-1, 5-1) defeated Maple Grove 139.05-137.8 on Tuesday, Feb. 16, at Elk River High School.
Head coach Jennifer Bartlett said that Tuesday, Feb. 16, was an emotional day not only because it was the Elks senior night, but Elk River High School and the other ISD 728 schools returned to in-person learning.
“We tried to come out and do the best after an exhausting day,” Bartlett said. “We still have a lot more inside of us to prove to a lot of people. We have our eyes on the prize of a section championship and a return to state. We have it written on our board, who’s ranked where, where we’re ranked, what it’s going to take. We’re gong to work hard every day—progress over perfection. It takes all of these seniors to make this whole team work.”
Senior Lexi Milless said Tuesday’s win needed to happen.
“For us, we can’t progress the whole season and expect to keep getting better every meet,” Milless said. “Every year, we need the dipping point that shows us what we need to work on, what we need to drive harder. I don’t think we could progress any better if we didn’t have tonight. We needed to see all the falls, all the frustrations, all the injuries.”
The Elks outscored the Crimson on three of four events. Elk River outscored Maple Grove on vault 35.775-35.350. On beam, the Elks outscored the Crimson 36.325-35.025. On floor, Elk River outscored Maple Grove 35.425-34.250. The Crimson outscored the Elks 33.175-31.525 on bars. Junior Abby Rekstad finished first on vault with a score of 9.525. Rekstad finished second on bars with a score of 8.625 and first on beam with a score of 9.45. Junior Ava Cole finished second with a score of 8.9.
“This is a hard sport. Not a lot of people can do it,” senior Kaitlyn Wehmeyer said. “It’s mentally and physically extremely hard. It’s one of the most dangerous sports. It takes a lot of guts to do it.”
Senior manager Anne Overton said she’s proud of her fellow seniors.
“This season is something we never imagined happening, but no matter how this season has looked, the girls and this coaching staff have not given up once,” Overton said. “Tonight was a tough night. We came into this meet knowing that it was going to be a close one. Maple Grove is a great team, but I couldn't be prouder of the girls for pulling off the win tonight, for both JV and varsity. We can only go up from here and I can't wait to see what these girls have left in them for the rest of the season.”
Elk River will compete against Park Center on Thursday, Feb. 25, at 4:45 p.m. at Park Center High School.