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Posted by Guest (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/25/2012 7:06:47 PM

By Luke Sleeper

The Class 1A individual and all-around state gymnastics meet ended in theatrical fashion Saturday afternoon. Hailey Brinkman, senior leader of Melrose’s state team champions, began her routine on the balance beam with the attention of the entire University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion crowd upon her.

Brinkman’s beam routine was the last of the entire meet; surely the pressure was on. The balance beam is considered to be the most difficult of the four events.

Brinkman entered her final event as the unofficial leader, knowing that a great balance beam routine would most likely give her the gold. She accepted the challenge and pulled off what she called “the best routine I’ve had all season.”

Brinkman scored a 9.625 on her beam performance, which was enough to not only give her first place in that event but it also gave her the gold medal in the all-around competition. She also won gold in the uneven bars and floor exercise – where she shared gold with Austin sophomore Sela Fadness.

Fadness finished third in the all-around, behind Brinkman and silver medal winner Jessica Stelter of Detroit Lakes. Stelter put up big scores early; a gold medal-earning performance on the vault and a bronze-medal score on the uneven bars. She appeared to be the favorite early on. The turning point of the meet proved to be Brinkman’s uneven bars routine on her third rotation, in which she earned a 9.7 and gained control of the unofficial lead.

Hailey Brinkman wasn’t the only member of Melrose’s championship team to place individually. Brinkman’s sister Jailyn placed sixth in the all-around, ignited by her silver-winning routine on the uneven bars. Freshman Lydia Butkowski of Melrose finished fifth in the all-around, further proof of the team’s unmatched depth that won them the team title Friday night.

Another notable performance came from Waconia senior Taylor Helle, who took home four medals total Saturday, including the bronze in the floor exercise and the fourth-place medal in all-around.

--Luke Sleeper is a journalism student at the University of Minnesota


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