St. Peter, Minn. – In front of a packed house at inside the Gustavus Gymnastics Studio, the Gustie gymnastics team fed off the crowd’s energy all night and rode the momentum to a 177.900-177.575 victory over Hamline University.
“The crowd was great and the girls responded to the outstanding atmosphere in the gym,” said head coach Katie Olson who earned her first collegiate victory tonight in the same gym where she competed as a student-athlete for the Gustavus gymnastics team. “When things are going well that success is contagious, and that’s what we saw throughout our lineup tonight.”
Gustavus’ score tonight was the team’s highest since posting a 178.350 at the WIAC Championships in 2011. It had been since earlier in the 2011 season on Feb. 4 that Gustavus had registered a team score of over 177.000.
Tonight’s dual win over Hamline is also the Gusties’ first since Feb. 12, 2010 when the Three Crowns topped Hamline 172.850-170.325.
“It feels great, it feels amazing,” said Olson following the meet. “The girls have been working so hard and this is so well-deserved. They hit on 23-of-24 routines and that’s not easy to do. The girls deserve all the credit tonight.”
Gustavus registered individual event scores of 45.200 on the vault, 42.800 on the uneven parallel bars, 44.900 on the balance beam, and 45.000 on the floor exercise. The squad’s total on the bars is a season-high, besting the previous high by 1.775.
Hamline turned in individual event scores of 46.775 on the vault, 41.300 on the bars, 45.075 on the beam, and 44.425 on the floor.
The meet was as tightly contested as one can as for in Division III gymnastics. After the first two rotations with the vault and bars in the books, Hamline held on to a narrow 88.075 advantage. Hamline had a slight 0.175-point edge in the beam competition, but Gustavus capped off the night with a stellar top-to-bottom score of 45.000 on the floor, taking the event by .575. With their score on the floor, Gustavus was able to edge Hamline by just 0.325 to win the meet.
Jamie Ries (Jr., Monticello, Minn.) led the Black and Gold with her best meet of the year after recording three season-bests on the evening. Ries turned in a season-high 9.325 to win the bars, then scored a 9.200 on the floor to finish second. Combined with an 8.975 on the vault (8th) and an 8.950 on the beam (6th), the junior finished runner-up in the all-around competition with her best score of the year, a 36.450.
Taking third in the all-around behind Ries was Bailey Zeinert (Sr., Oshkosh, Wis.) who scored a season-high 36.100. Zeinert’s top marks came by way of a second place finish on the bars (9.125) and third place finish on the beam (9.200). Both scores were season-bests for the senior.
Samantha Opsahl (Sr., Forest Lake, Minn.) rounded out Gustavus’ top performers with a victory of her own. Opsahl took the top spot on the podium with a 9.450 routine on the beam, matching her top score of 2013 set earlier at the John Zuerlein Invitational on Jan. 25.
Hamline’s Courtney Benson scored a 36.875 to win the all-around competition. Benson took gold on the vault (9.525) and floor (9.550) while also placing third on the bars (8.950).
“If anything, this win shows them that when they come out and compete, good things can happen,” Olson stated. “I’m not sure if they had that before, but now it’s in the back of their minds. This is a work in progress and tonight was a step in the right direction. I’m proud of the girls and what they accomplished.”
The Gustavus gymnastics team will be back in action on Saturday, Feb. 16 when it travels to Minneapolis to take part in the Best of Minnesota Invite set to begin at 6:00 p.m.