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Class A state gymnastics preview: Parkston/Ethan/Hanson, Chamberlain vying for strong finishes

Parkston/Ethan/Hanson's Tyra Zens competes on the bars during a triangular earlier this year at the MEGA Gymnastics Center. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Fresh off winning the Region 2A championship, the Parkston/Ethan/Hanson gymnastics team is looking to carry momentum into the state meet.

P/E/H claimed the region title with a team score of 131.300, which is the third-best score in Class A. Chamberlain was right behind P/E/H with a score of 129.225 and both teams will be vying for a top-three finish at the state team competition at 11 a.m. today in Watertown. In total, nine teams will compete for the state championship on Friday. The individual and all-around competitions will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.

P/E/H coach Bridget Muntefering said her team is peaking at the right time after earning a season-high score at the region meet.

"It's nice to have our core group together. The girls worked really hard," Muntefering said. "Everybody has made progress and we've all come together. It's exciting and the state meet will be fun."

Leaders for P/E/H are Tyra Zens, who placed seventh in all-around last year, McKenzie Prunty, who placed second in all-around at the region meet, as well as Jada Plastow and Jaya Kurtenbach.

"We're focusing on making it count," Muntefering said. "All you can do is do your best, have fun and walk away proud of your performance. The girls are ready."

For the past three decades, the Class A team title has been dominated by Madison, with the exception of a three-year run by Deuel (2011-2013). Led by last year's all-around champion Jenni Giles, the Bulldogs enter the state meet as the heavy favorites, followed by Deuel. In the Region 1A meet, Madison posted a team score of 142.450, while Deuel finished with a 141.325.

Chamberlain coach Sherri Knippling said the Cubs are aiming for a top finish and possibly leaping P/E/H.

"If we can practice diligently, stay confident and healthy, we could place in the top-five," Knippling said. "All we can do is try our hardest and have our very best performances."

The Cubs are led by the trio of Ciara Hough, MiKayden Weston and Allison Hough. Alyssa Allen, Kazney Knippling and Kathrinn Hopkins could also compete in all four team events.

Wagner/Bon Homme is one of the nine teams that qualified for the state meet after posting a score of 126.750 in the Region 2A meet. The team earned one of three wildcard bids to reach the state meet and head coach Cherie Petry said her squad is going to make the most of the experience.

"I'm hoping they can keep their nerves under control and do what we've been training to do all season. The chips can fall wherever they may," Petry said. "We have such a young team and they stick together. Team unity is most important and it's a team effort."

Region 2A all-around champion Emily Duffek leads Wagner/Bon Homme, while Alcista Dion, Joanna Soukup, Ivy Hopkins and Jenna Duffek are also key team pieces.

Individually, Montrose's Jocelyn Krouse will be aiming for a top finish. Last year, she placed in the top four in all four events and finished third in all-around with a score of 36.150. The junior placed seventh in all-around at the region meet with a score of 33.950.