Gymnastics: NLS Wildcats aim for top-5 finish at state

Feb. 21—ST. PAUL — Despite losing a well-rounded senior class with seven gymnasts heading into its 2022-23 campaign, New London-Spicer is heading back to the Class A team state tournament for a third consecutive season.

The Wildcats took home the Section 6A title, scoring 139.750. NLS' opponents that fell short of clinching a berth included Willmar, Benson/Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, Litchfield and Paynesville/Eden Valley-Watkins.

"That was their goal this year — to make it a three-peat," NLS head coach Cindy Jacobson said. "It was a good feeling. The girls have worked hard and they have put a lot of new tricks into their routines."

The Class A team state tournament begins at 6 p.m. Friday at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul.

NLS competes against Big Lake, Detroit Lakes, Worthington, Mankato West, Winona, Watertown-Mayer/Mound Westonka and Mahtomedi.

Led by junior Ciera Anderson and sophomore Abby Knudsen, NLS' average meet score of 140.367 ranks seventh among the eight state teams,

according to the Minnesota Girls Gymnastics Coaches Association


The top-tbree teams in average meet scores going into the state competition are Big Lake (146.942), Detroit Lakes (144.425) and Worthington (142.600).

"Going into state, they want to make a good showing. Two years ago we got fifth place and last year we got fourth place," Jacobson said. "I think just having a good meet and being proud of what they do — it's good — we made it to state and that's what they wanted to do.

"I would love for the top five. These girls have a lot of talent and we have not reached their full potential of scoring at a meet."

The Wildcats will also have four gymnasts compete in the Class A individual state tournament at 6 p.m. Saturday at Roy Wilkins Auditorium.

Anderson leads the Wildcats' pack of individuals. She competes in the all-around for a third straight season.

In the 2022 Class A state individual competition, Anderson put together the best meet of her gymnastics career. She scored 37.225 to take seventh-place.

"I'm hoping on most of my events to make it to the (podium)," Anderson said. "Beam might be a little tricky. But I think I could for vault, bars and maybe floor."

The top six individuals in the all-around and un the four events earn a spot on the podium, where they will receive medals.

Knudsen, junior Kaisa Williams and sophomore Kaitlyn Preheim also join Anderson competing as individuals on Saturday.

Knudsen competes on the vault, the uneven parallel bars and the floor. Preheim competes on the balance beam and the floor. Williams competes on the floor.

"I am just happy with these girls," Jacobson said. "As long as they have fun and relax."

Individuals from Willmar, Benson/KMS and Litchfield will also compete at Saturday's Class A individual state tournament.

Led by junior Lyndi Koosman — who began the season with a high-ankle sprain — Willmar has hree gymnasts competing individually.

Koosman took second in the all-around at the Section 6A meet and participates in the all-around after competing in three of four events in 2022.

"Resilient is one of our core words and she really pursues that everyday," Willmar head coach Torrie Heitzman said. "It's been so awesome to see her be that resilient person, having those struggle and those hard days, but at the end, just celebrate the ability to do gymnastics and just smile so big."

Joining Koosman in St. Paul are senior Kim Joneson and freshman Mallory Beier.

Joneson competes on the vault, the uneven parallel bars and the balance beam. Beier competes on the vault.

"It's really just a celebration of the season. It's icing on the cake and an opportunity to do gymnastics one more time," Heitzman said. "We're really excited to go down there and just soak it all in."

Benson/KMS senior Libby McGeary competes as an individual in the all-around for a third consecutive season after finishing third in the all-around at the Section 6A meet. She won the Class A state balance beam in 2021.

Rounding out the group of area individual competitors is Litchfield senior Liv Holmgren. She competes in the uneven parallel bars competition.