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Deuel defends Class A title, sets team record

Chamberlain's Shantel Bairey performs a skill during a bar routine at the Class A state gymnastics meet Friday in Rapid City.(Brooke Cersosimo/Republic)

RAPID CITY -- The Deuel gymnastics team defended its Class A state championship with back-to-back 9.9 vaults by standouts Sam Wiekamp and Meaghan Sievers.

Deuel, which set a Class A team record for points, finished ahead of the rest of the field by more than nine points with a team score of 145.9. Deuel beat its own record score from last year, which was 145.846.

Madison finished in second with a 137.025, Milbank was third with a 130.05 and Chamberlain finished in fourth with a 127.85.

"Bars killed us (today)," said Chamberlain coach Sherri Knippling, whose team scored its lowest score of the competition on the uneven bars but didn't count a fall throughout the competition. "We lost a lot of our connections and didn't have our best routines."

The Wagner Red Raiders finished the competition in ninth place with a score of 117.350.

Both Chamberlain and Wagner opened the meet, which spanned more than eight hours, in the first rotation, while many others sat out in a bye round.

"I think in this situation, we were lucky to go first," Knippling said. "The length of the meet really fatigues the athletes."

Wagner head coach Lorie Walery said she was happy with the way her team performed on the first event.

"We're usually a pretty strong team on vault and I thought they performed well to start the meet," said Walery, whose team scored its best event score of the night with a 32.45 on the event.

Wagner was without one of its top gymnasts Hannah Flemming due to an injury, so younger athletes stepped into position for the Red Raiders.

Wagner finished the meet on floor and Walery said it couldn't have been better."We love ending on floor because it makes you feel so good to end on that event after getting the hard events out of the way," she said. "They really looked like they were having fun out there."

In Class A, gymnasts qualified for the individual competition, which is set for 3:45 p.m. mountain time today. To qualify, gymnasts had to prequalify before the state meet or finish in the top half of each event in Friday's competition.

"It's the fairest way to advance kids to the second half of state," Knippling said. "It's a lot of pressure but state is about pressure, and you need those kids to stand up to it."

Chamberlain has four gymnasts competing in the all-around in Vanzi Knippling, Shantel Bairey, Marilyn Nasomwat and Sarah Knust. Halee Larson qualified to compete on beam and floor, while Amber Felicia will compete on vault for the Cubs.

Wagner will be represented in the individual competition by four athletes. Kylee Ligtenberg is set to compete in the all-around and Krista Dvorak qualified to compete on beam and floor. Bobby Jo Soukup will compete on bars and Megan Kocer will compete on floor for the Red Raiders.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.