The Magic gymnastics team improved throughout this season. When you consider the team’s youth, that’s hardly a surprise.
Keeping the youth factor in consideration, it might have been tough for fans to expect Monticello to continue competing at a high level at sections, the biggest and most pressure-packed meet of the year.
“That was definitely a concern going in,” said Coach Brent Wuollet. “How are they going to handle that type of pressure?”
Wuollet received a positive answer to his own question.“They handled it well” he said.
The Magic scored 136.025 points to finish fifth as a team in a loaded Section 7A. And making a good day great was seventh-grader Kennedy Bican finishing fourth in the beam event, and earning a spot at the state tournament this coming weekend.
“All in all, it was a good meet,” Wuollet said.
Team wise, the meet started with Monticello facing their biggest nemesis, the bars.
But Wuollet said it actually wasn’t a bad event to start on, and it let them get it off their minds.
“For this meet’s sake, it was a good place for us to start,” he said. “It’s an event where even if you’re nervous, you can usually get through it pretty well.”
Monticello did get through it, and got to move on to the beam, an event where they have found both success and struggled throughout the year.
Saturday it was a success. Monticello had a season-best three girls stay on the beam during the meet, led by Bican, who turned in a score of 9.2. Mikara Mitchell also turned in an outstanding routine, scoring an 8.975 to finish seventh in the event.
“It’s what you work all year for,” Wuollet said.“You try and have your best meet at sections. And to have the three girls stay on beam, that was huge.”
Monticello went next to floor, where they stayed solid. Bican led the way once again, scoring a 9.1 to pick up a ninth-place finish at the meet. Her teammates backed her up, with all four scoring between 8.325 and 8.8 (Taylor Boraas).
Floor, the fourth and final event, brought yet another consistent performance out of the Magic. Bican finished in sixth place, with a score of 9.075, while Mikara Mitchell scored 8.925 and Gabbie Kittel turned in an 8.5.
All in all, it added up to one of the team’s best performances of the year, in undoubtedly the biggest meet of the year.
“The meet was extremely competitive,” Wuollet pointed out.
Big Lake won the team portion of the meet, scoring 141.175 points. Becker and Sartell were both within half a point of the Hornets. Annandale finished in fourth, less than a point in front of the Magic.
Bican qualifies for state
Being that Bican is just a seventh grader who has been competing at the varsity level for all of a few months, this has been a year full of firsts. But this weekend, her first section meet, and eventually her first state qualification, certainly mark the biggest firsts of the season.
“I was really impressed with how she competed,” said Wuollet. “She’s just a seventh grader, so she doesn’t have a whole lot of experience obviously. But other than struggling a little bit on bars, she had one of her best meets of the year.”
The highlight came on the beam. Bican turned in a mostly clean performance, leaving her happy, even before she had any idea if it was good enough for the top-four finished needed to get to the state meet.
“I was overjoyed when I finished my beam routine,” said Bican. “I was just so happy that I stuck it at the meet that really counted.”
Bican said she was hopeful that her score would be enough, but didn’t know for sure until the meet ended and they read off all of the scores.
“I was really, really happy,” she said.
Now Bican, who finished sixth in the all-around with a score of 35.075, is preparing to head down to the state meet, which is held this weekend at the University of Minnesota.
Wuollet acknowledges that Bican has the potential to make a big impression, but the focus is on making it the trip to state great experience.
“If she nails her routine, anything is possible. She’s got a really difficult routine that could place in the top five if she hits it,” Wuollet said. “But being a seventh-grader, and this being her first trip, I’m just looking for her to enjoy the opportunity to go down there and to gain experience.”
Bican is ready to get down to the U of M.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “I’m just going to try my best.”
The seventh-grader said she doesn’t plan on changing much from the routine that earned her a spot at the state meet.“I’m going to just try to clean it up a little bit and stick everything,” Bican said.
The Class A Individual State Championships are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion.
Contact Clay Sawatzke at firstname.lastname@example.org