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Bob Williams / Forum Communications Co., Published February 24 2012

Melrose dethrones Perham, takes gymnastics state title

MINNEAPOLIS – Seeking their first state championship since 1995, the No. 1-ranked Melrose gymnastics team ended an eight-year Perham streak taking, the Minnesota Class 1A gymnastics championship out of the Yellowjackets’ hands.

Perham, ranked No. 3 in Class 1A, finished in fourth place.

“Who would have ever expected us to be here,” Perham head coach Charlie Fleck said.

With one senior, one freshman and the remainder of the team comprised of seventh and eighth graders, expectations were not as high for Perham gymnastics this season. But a streak of eight straight championships adds an amount a pressure.

“We’re not changing our goals,” said Fleck. “We still want to win.”

Much of that pressure fell squarely on the shoulders of lone Yellowjackets senior Satera Montella.

When asked if she felt that pressure she said, “Oh, yeah,” with a sense of relief after Friday’s competition.

“I’m ready for it to be over, but at the same time I’m going to miss it a lot,” said Montella.

Melrose put up untouchable gold medal numbers, totaling 147.500, distancing itself by more than two points from second place.

No. 2-ranked New Prague and No. 4 Big Lake battled it out for second place, finishing only 0.125 points apart.

New Prague backed up its ranking, scoring 145.425 to Big Lake’s 145.3.

Perham finished with a fourth-place score of 143.775.

Perham’s path to repeating as champions was made even more difficult when Adrienne Meyer injured her knee in warm-ups and was out of action before the meet started.

Unofficial reports were of ACL and MCL damage. She watched the meet in a cast.

The injury opened the door for seventh-grader Madison Peichel to enter the lineup, which she did with little warm-up due to not being on the initial starting roster.

Carly Breitenfeldt, who has starred on the team most of the season, was still recovering from a prior injury and only competed in two events.

Breitenfeldt led Perham on uneven bars with a score of 9.275.

Perham’s first rotation was on balance beam. Montella led with a 9.025, despite a fall midway through her routine.

The Yellowjackets scored highest on their strongest event, floor exercise, with a combined 36.625.

Montella put up the fourth highest score of the championship with a 9.525.

Hailey Brinkman, Melrose’s lone senior, recorded a meet-high 9.650 on floor.

Brinkman and Montella are expected to battle for the top spot in tomorrow’s individual championships.

Perham picked up momentum in their third event on vault.

Team scores: Melrose Area 147.500, New Prague Area 145.425, Big Lake 145.300, Perham 143.775, Austin 142.025, Jackson County Central 138.275, Breck 138.125, Rush City/Pine City/ Hinckley-Finlayson 135.050.

Perham results

Floor Exercise-36.625

Montella 9.525; Martinson 9.175; Breitenfeldt 8.975; A. Peichel 8.950; M. Peichel 8.200.

Balance Beam-35.175

Montella 9.025; Martinson 8.850; Meyer 8.650; A. Peichel 8.650; M. Peichel 7.850.

Uneven Bars-35.600

Breitenfeldt 9.275; A. Peichel 9.200; Martinson 8.725; Meyer 8.400; Montella 8.250.

Vault-36.375

Montella 9.475; Martinson 9.200; A. Peichel 9.150; M. Peichel 8.550; Meyer 8.525.

Williams is the sports editor for the East Otter Tail Focus