By PATRICK SLACK
Little Falls junior Rachelle LeBlanc not only claimed the Section 8A title at Park Rapids, and with it, a third consecutive trip to state, Feb. 16.
She did it in record-setting fashion, breaking the previous school mark with an all-around total of 38.05, leading the Flyers to third place out of eight teams.
LeBlanc also earned first place on balance beam and floor exercise with identical scores of 9.6, while turning in runner-up efforts on vault and bars with matching scores of 9.425.
“Rachelle had a great day and worked very hard to earn her awards,” Little Falls co-head coach Kent Gomez said. “She works hard daily in practice and is very aware of what she wants to accomplish.”
“Obviously, she was very focused and driven as she competed,” he said. “She is very good at visualizing her routines before she starts and gets into her ‘zone’ before she competes.”
Senior Amanda Hanson followed LeBlanc in 13th place in the all-around with a score of 31.55, posting top-20 routines on vault (8.5), floor exercise (8.35) and bars (7.6).
Junior Taylor Axel delivered the next two highest finishes, placing 15th on vault (8.55) and 16th on beam (7.8).
“We stress to all our girls that every meet is important, but the section meet is the most important,” Gomez said. “That’s where it really counts and you as a gymnast have the opportunity to move on to state competition. Rachelle has been gearing up all season.”
The state meet was scheduled to take place at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion, Feb. 23.
LeBlanc turned in a fifth-place performance on balance beam at last year’s state meet, finishing ninth in the all-around competition.
Little Falls finished the season with a dual meet record of 5-6, placing third at the Granite Ridge Conference meet.
Seniors on this year’s team included Hanson, Caitlean Plumski, Desiree Haggerty and Diana Kempenich.
Section 8A gymnastics meet
Team—1. Perham, 145.05; 2. Detroit Lakes, 144.175; 3. Little Falls, 131.675; 4. Bemidji, 129.575; 5. Fergus Falls, 125.025; 6. Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, 110.85; 7. Park Rapids Area, 98.1; 8. Frazee, 97.675.
Vault—2. Rachelle LeBlanc, 9.425; 15. Taylor Axel, 8.55; 18. Amanda Hanson, 8.5; 20. Desiree Haggerty, 8.4; 23. Stephanie Cluever, 8.3. Bars—2. LeBlanc, 9.425; 14. Hanson, 7.6; 18. Caitlean Plumski, 7.15; 23. Sarah Stout, 6.75; 35. Gabby Lyter, 4.2. Beam—1. LeBlanc, 9.6; 16. Axel, 7.8; 22. Diana Kempenich, 7.2; 23. Hanson, 7.1; 25. Stout, 7.0. Floor—1. LeBlanc, 9.6; 14. Hanson, 8.35; 17. Stout, 8.225; 23. Axel, 8.0; 24. Lyter, 7.5. All-around—1. LeBlanc, 38.05; 13. Hanson, 31.55.