Northfield gymnastics wins Section championship, is headed back to state - Northfield MN: Sports

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Northfield gymnastics wins Section championship, is headed back to state

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Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013 10:56 pm | Updated: 10:35 pm, Tue Feb 19, 2013.

With Northfield’s gymnastics team lined up in front of them on Friday the crowd at Northfield High School for the Section 1AA meet let loose a roar, bringing the sight of sparkling tears to a couple Raiders faces.

The meet hadn’t even started yet.

What came next was reason for that same crowd to hit decibel levels that created a downright din: Northfield absolutely dominated the meet from start to finish, posting a 149.9 and earning a one-way ticket to next weekend’s state meet.

“Indescribable,” junior Abby Stets said as fans crowded around the floor afterward. “You would think we would be used to it, or that it’s not as special. Not at all. I’m so proud of my team for pulling through.”

Northfield did just that — beating second-place Winona by 3.65 points — in front of a packed gymnasium the Raiders credited afterward with fueling them on the biggest stage their season has seen.

“It was very nerve-racking coming in knowing this was the meet we’ve prepared the entire season for, but after seeing all these fans to support us we knew we could do it for them and for us,” sophomore Bailey DuPay said. “We deserved that.”

DuPay — who competed in just two events on Feb. 8 at the Missota Conference meet due to injury — was lights out, winning the all-around with a 38.475, a full point over second-place sophomore teammate Christy Anderson.

“I knew that I worked all season to get to this point, so once I landed on the [final event, the] beam I just thought, ‘It’s over. Whatever happens, happens,’” she said.

What happened after that final event was a steady stream of Raiders to the awards podium, the last being to accept the Section championship trophy.

“I don’t think there was any way these girls were going to lose this at home,” said coach Melissa Bernhard, who won the Section Coach of the Year award. “They decided that before they got here tonight.”

Northfield’s domination of a Section that included two of the state’s top five-ranked teams (No. 4-ranked Owatonna and No. 5-ranked Winona) was borderline absolute. The Raiders swept the top four places on the bars — the top four finishers in each event go to state — and had the top three all-around finishers as sophomore Alexis Kiefer took third (37.425).

“You’re really proud for building up all season, and knowing we’ve finally done it, and bonding together as a team to do it. Together,” Stets said. “That’s not something a lot of people get to do.”

The home crowd added an extra element to the festivities for the Raiders as their final performances sealed the win, and the celebration continued long after the final scores were announced.

“It was one of the greatest moments in my high school career,” Stets said. “We all knew coming in this was the kind of thing you get to have once in a career. It was just unbelievable. The support we got from the fans, the energy we got from all the fans, I can’t even describe it. It was really cool.”

Scores

Vault: DuPay, 9.55; Stets, 9.475; Kiefer, 9.275; Anderson, 9.05. Bars: DuPay, 9.775; Kiefer, 9.4; Anderson, 9.35; Stets, 9.3. Beam: Anderson, 9.65; Kiefer, 9.6; DuPay, 9.375; Stets, 8.35. Floor: 9.775; Anderson, 9.425; Stets, 9.4; Kiefer, 9.15.

Reach Sports Editor Jordan Osterman at 645-1111, or follow him on Twitter.com @NFNJordan.

© 2014 Southernminn.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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