Junior Chaney Neu is most likely not going to be competing for Champlin Park gymnastics this season, but that doesn’t mean the Rebels are without top returning talent.
Neu suffered a devastating knee injury in May, tearing her meniscus, MCL and ACL in a competition. Complications with scar tissue has slowed her rehab to the point where she still isn’t running and does not have the same range of motion.
With safety concerns and a long recovery ahead, Neu is entering the year as one of the team managers – a vastly different role for the star that won three straight Class 2A state all-around titles, became the first Minnesota high school gymnast to score a perfect 10.0 on the vault and set the state record for an all-around score.
But for now, Neu is going to be imparting some of her knowledge and watching her teammates compete as contenders in the 5AA section.
Juniors Emma Saksa (all-around) and Tashina Beyioku-Alase (vault, floor) return as the other individual state qualifiers from last season.
Saksa advanced to state on the uneven parallel bars last season. Saksa finished 25th on the uneven bars with a 9.1375 at state. That score was better than the 9.125 at sections that allowed her to compete at state.
Saksa competes in the all-around and had a top-10 finish in all but the vault at sections last season, where she took 11th with a 9.0.
With Neu sidelined, Saksa looks to be the leader for Champlin Park this season.
Beyioku-Alase made state in the vault last year. She took 15th overall with a score of 9.5125. She also competes on the floor exercise and finished eighth at sections last season.
Senior Avery Donovan (all-around), juniors Kara McElmurry (beam, floor, bars) and Karli Winslade (beam) and freshman Alyssa Peddycoart (beam, floor) are also back from last season.
Donovan, who was one of the captains last season, was 10th on the balance beam at sections, and she also competed on the vault. McElmurry competed on the beam, floor and vault, and Peddycoart competed on the bars.
Junior LeAnna Ung (uneven bars) and sophomore Jordan Smith (vault, uneven bars) are newcomers already competing this season.
Champlin Park hosted the annual Luau Invitational Dec. 14 and finished second as a team with a 138.7, behind Edina (138.95) and ahead of Park (127.15) and Park Center (125.25).
McElmurry tied for first with Edina freshman Kelsy Neff on the balance beam with a 9.1, and Peddycoart was third with a 9.0.
Beyioku-Alase was second on the vault with a 9.35, behind Park Center junior Annika Lee (9.4), and Saksa was second on the uneven bars with a 9.15, behind Neff (9.5). Saksa was also second on the floor with a 9.45, behind Neff (9.6).
Saksa ended up third overall in the all-around with a 35.7. Park Center’s Lee won with a 36.5, and Edina’s Neff was second with a 35.7. Donovan ended up ninth with a 32.15.
Peddycoart was also fifth on the bars (8.4) and sixth on the floor (8.9), and Beyioku-Alase was fifth on the floor (9.3).
Champlin Park’s JV team won the meet with a 124.9.
Sophomore Bella Schneider (8.65) and Ung (8.4) were first and second on the vault, and Beyioku-Alase (8.4), freshman Emma Husom (8.3), Smith (8.2), senior Payton Hanson (7.95) and Schneider (7.7) finished first through fifth on the balance beam.
Smith (8.3) and Husom (8.0) were first and second on the floor, and Hanson and Schneider tied for first in the all-around with a 30.5.
Junior Mya Lloyd (7.0) was fourth on the uneven bars.