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Paynesville Press - February 22, 2006

Gymnasts end season at sections

By Michael Jacobson

Junior Kacy Nehowig just missed a return trip to the state meet on the uneven bars on Saturday, as the Bulldogs gymnastics team ended their season at the Section 6A meet at Benson.

The top team and top four individuals in each event advance to the state tournament, which will be held this weekend in St. Paul. Last year, on bars, Nehowig became the third PAHS gymnast to qualify for and compete at state, joining Louise Mueller on bars (1982) and Lisa Schmidt on vault (1988).

This year, Nehowig slipped slightly from fourth to fifth on the bars at sections and was edged for the last state berth by 0.15 points. Nehowig scored 8.65 for fifth, while Melrose's Ashley Wehlage secured the last state berth by scoring 8.8. Last year, Nehowig scored 8.85 to place fourth and advance to state.

This is the second time in three years that Nehowig has missed a state berth on the bars by 0.15 points. As a ninth grader in 2004, she scored 8.5 at sections on bars, placed sixth, and missed state qualification by 0.15 points.

Nehowig missed the early part of the season due to injury and did not start competing until after Christmas. "Back then," said her coach and mother Deb Nehowig, "we didn't think she would even be in the position to have a shot at advancing to the state meet, so we took that attitude going into this meet."

The Dogs, as a team, finished sixth out of eight teams in Section 6A despite having their season highest team score of the season (122.5 points), just missing their best point total of the season by 0.05. The Dogs' season-best score was 122.55 against Morris in January.

Melrose won the section title again and will make their ninth straight state appearance in gymnastics (and their 15th state trip in the past 17 years).

The Dogs finished sixth on each apparatus, coming within a point of placing fifth on the bars (0.9 behind Litchfield) and the vault (0.95 behind Prairie Center).

The Dogs did set a season high on the floor exercise with a team total of 31.75. Ninth grader Anna Kotten was 15th on the floor (8.7), followed by Nehowig in 21st (8.4), with sophomore Cassey Lund in 27th (7.6) and seventh grader Caitlyn Gottwald in 32nd (7.05).

Only Nehowig and Kotten recorded top-20 finishes at sections. Nehowig was fifth on the bars (8.65), 11th in the all around (33.4), 16th on vault (8.65), and 20th on beam (7.7). Kotten was 13th in the all around (32.85), 15th on the floor (8.7), 16th on bars (7.9), and 19th on beam (7.9).

Kotten scored a personal best with that 8.7 on the floor. Lund also scored a personal best on the floor with a score of 7.6. Lund averaged 6.8 on the floor this year, said coach Nehowig, and really improved in her last performance of the season.

Gottwald also had a season high on the beam (6.45) and just missed a season high on the floor, where she has added two back-handsprings.

Seventh grader Megan Wuertz had her second best score on the bars, junior Brittney Spanier nailed her handspring-full vault to score 8.35, and junior Celia Frieler had a nice beam routince, added Nehowig.

Team Scores
1) Melrose 145.05
2) New London-Spicer 142.225
3) Benson 136.3
4) Litchfield 130.325
5) Prairie Centre Area 129.8
6) Paynesville 122.5
7) Ortonville 104.3
8) Morris Area 96.825

Individual Results
Vault: Kacy Nehowig (16) 8.65; Anna Kotten (23) 8.35; Brittney Spanier (24) 8.35; Cassey Lund (30) 7.95; Megan Wuertz (31) 7.95; TOTAL: Pay (6) - 33.3; Mel (1) - 36.15;

Uneven bars: Nehowig (5) 8.65; Kotten (16) 7.9; Spanier (25) 6.75; Wuertz (33) 5.1; TOTAL: Pay (6) - 28.4; Mel (1) - 35.15;

Balance beam: Kotten (19) 7.9; Nehowig (20) 7.7; Celia Frieler (28) 7.0; Gottwald (30) 6.45; Spanier (33) 5.85; TOTAL: Pay (6) - 29.05; Mel (1) - 37.4;

Floor: Kotten (15) 8.7; Nehowig (21) 8.4; Lund (27) 7.6; Gottwald (32) 7.05; Spanier (33) 7.0; TOTAL: Pay (6) - 31.75; NL-S (1) - 36.55;

All around: Nehowig (11) 33.4; Kotten (13) 32.85.

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