Faribault junior Lauren McDonough and senior Chloe Duchene both qualified for the state gymnastics meet Friday afternoon in New Prague. They will represent the Falcons on the balance beam at the Class A state meet Friday, March 26, at Champlin Park High School.
McDonough took fifth with a score of 8.625 at the Section 2A meet while Duchene was right behind in sixth with an 8.550. The top three scorers in the all-around qualified for state and then the next three highest scorers in each individual event qualify as well.
It is McDonough’s third-straight trip to state for beam. She fought through some adversity during her routine at sections when she fell after putting up a 9.5 at the Big 9 conference meet.
“I’m super excited that the rest of her routine was really clean and she still got a decent score,” Faribault coach Holly Olmscheid said.
Duchene is making her first trip to state as a senior in what is her first year on the school team after previously competing in club gymnastics.
“Chloe Duchene, that was the best routine I’ve seen from her this year, it was amazing. She just put in a back-tuck on beam like three days ago, that definitely added to her score quite a bit actually,” Olmscheid said. “She went in and hit everything on it, it looked super clean, it was really confident and she didn’t overthink, she let herself go into autopilot and it was super cool to see her do what I know she’s capable of.
“It’s really awesome she gets to end her senior year with us on the high school team and making it to state because she is a fantastic gymnast,” Olmscheid added.
Heading into the state meet, Olmscheid said she did not yet have any specific goals for McDonough and Duchene, but just wants them to enjoy the experience.
“I really just want them to go in and hit their routines, stay on the beam and just give it everything that they have,” she said.
Faribault took eighth as a team out of nine with a cumulative score of 124.250, less than a point behind seventh-place Waseca and Blue Earth, which took fifth. The section champion was Mankato West with a score of 143.725.
The Falcons went into sections not quite at full strength after putting up a team score in the 130s at the Big 9 meet and usually scoring in the 126-127 range. They were missing freshman Miller Munoz and senior Brianna Radatz who both compete on varsity. Seventh-grader Alexis Wilkerson-Wolf, who usually is on junior varsity, was informed right before the meet she would be on bars and Faribault had only four girls compete in each event rather than the customary five. Missing two varsity contributors, down a gymnast in each event and only dropping a few team points is a credit to how well the team prepared.
“I think they worked incredibly hard over the last couple weeks, getting ready for Big 9 and sections, and I think it paid off, especially at Big 9, because we hit basically everything,” Olmscheid said.
McDonough came close to qualifying in the all-around with a 33.275, which was good for seventh. On floor she took 10th with an 8.825, scored an 8.400 on vault and added a 7.425 on bars. Duchene scored a 7.075 on bars, 8.550 on vault and an 8.700 on floor. She finished ninth in the all-around with a composite of 32.875.
Senior Alexis Bottke put up personal records on vault (8.650 for 10th place), floor (8.100) and all-around (32.350 for 11th). On beam, she scored an 8.300 and finished eighth. Junior Aubrey Hatfield put together an 8.200 on vault, 7.100 on beam and an 8.100 on floor.
In her first season as head coach of the Falcons, Olmscheid had nothing but praise for her team and their efforts during such an abnormal season.
“I am blown away by our girls, I truly am,” she said. “I have loved coaching every minute this season. It was really awesome, the girls that we added to the team this year really added a lot to our team. Not just in gymnastics, but in personality, in attitudes, in everything. Again, I’m just amazed by these girls and I can’t say enough, they deserve all the credit.”