Trailing by more than a point entering the final rotation on Friday night at Maturi Pavilion, Lakeville North had to be as close to flawless as possible.
Luckily for the Panthers, they were finishing on vault, one of the biggest strength of the team, according to junior Anna Altermatt.
That proved to be the case on this particular night, too, and when the dust from all the chalk settled, Lakeville North had done enough, finishing with a final score of 149.350 points to capture its second Class 2A state gymnastics title in three years.
Meanwhile, defending champion Stillwater suffered through a host of missteps on balance beam, unequivocally the most difficult apparatus in the all-around competition. That pressure appeared to get the best of the Ponies, dropping them to second place with a final score of 148.625 points.
“None of us knew until they announced it,” Altermatt said. “We had no idea. We didn’t look on any of the scores because we didn’t want that to affect us (during the competition).”
While that might seem a little hard to believe, especially when it comes to a bunch of millennials that basically in social media, the genuine reactions upon hearing the results spoke for themselves.
As the Panthers learned the news over over the loud speakers, cheers echoed throughout the crowd, and tears streamed down the faces of nearly every gymnast on the team.
“It was so amazing,” Altermatt said.” It was the best feeling ever.”
For Altermatt, the most ironic thing, is it almost never happened. She missed most of the year as she contemplated whether or not she wanted to set her focus on a club team rather than a high school team.
That decision consumed her, and while she waffled back and forth, ultimately watching the Lakeville North football team capture the Class 6A state championship this fall, helped convince her to come back for good.
“After watching them win, we wanted to win again,” said Altermatt, who was a part of the team that won the Class 2A state championship a couple of years ago. “We all wanted this so bad.”
Well, they got it, and it’s safe to say Altermatt was a big reason for the success.
“I’m so glad I came back,” Altermatt said. “It’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. It’s an honor to be apart of this program.”
While the gymnasts celebrated like they’ve never celebrated before, it was clear this one meant a lot to coach Teri Homan, too. Since taking over for Hall of Fame coach Milan Mader long ago, she has always had a goal of re-establishing Lakeville North as a force to be reckoned with.
Before the district split into two schools back in 2005, Mader helped lead Lakeville, the singular school, to 10 team championships.
While it took more than 10 years to get the program completely back on track, it’s safe to say Homan has the program is back where it belongs.
“Yes,” Homan said with a smile. “We are back.”
LAKERS WINS FIFTH STRAIGHT
Detroit Lakes native Adam Thielen might want to watch his back. He’s no longer the only star athlete from the small town of less 10,000.
No, not after the Lakers gymnastics team captured its fifth consecutive Class 1A team championship on Friday afternoon at Maturi Pavilion. They completed the miraculous feat in style, too, setting a new Class 1A team record score with a score of 152.200 points, besting the previous high mark of 151.675 points, which they set last year.
Sartell-St. Stephen finished in a distant second place with 148.225 points, while Mahtomedi finished in third place with 146.050 points.