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Gymnastics: Young Irish gymnasts sweep Bloomington Jefferson, Kennedy

A Rosemount gymnast competes on bars.

Once the Rosemount gymnastics team finished off a sweep of Bloomington Jefferson and Bloomington Kennedy in a double dual meet last week, Irish coach Jason Passeri was feeling good about the accomplishments of his squad.

Passeri had largely downplayed expectations earlier this season, noting he had a relatively young team without much high school varsity experience. Rosemount also appeared to be lacking the kind of top-shelf, state-meet quality gymnast as it has boasted in recent seasons.

After three dual meets in the South Suburban Conference and a pair of invitational tournaments, Passeri is pleased with the team's performance.

"We're 3-0 so far this year," Passeri said. "I know it's early and things can change and you have no idea what's going to happen, but we have eight conference meets, so we should be well above .500. And we're still a young team. There is so much improvement we can still make between now and the end of the season. We've got a few potential 36 all-arounders. Right now they're still young, and have a lot of learning to do."

One reason for Passeri's optimism is the team's depth, something it's shown in recent meets.

The Irish scored a team total of 134.925 to beat the two Bloomington schools. Bloomington Jefferson provided the biggest challenge, scoring 133.075 in the three-team event.

Seventh-grader Abby Nelson led the way for Rosemount against the Jaguars and Eagles.

Nelson won the all-around competition against both schools, scoring a total of 34.025. She won the uneven bars and the balance beam competitions as well.

She scored a 9.2 on the beam, the first seventh-grader to earn a score of at least 9.0 in Passeri's 13 years as coach for the Irish.

"I thought that was kind of cool," Passeri said. "We were looking up at the (9.0) board and I showed her there were no seventh-graders up there. Not even a Katie Murgic and you look up and see how many times her name is up there. Not that it matters, but it's cool to show where she is at."

Kailey Askew was third in the all-around against Bloomington Jefferson, scoring a 33.8 total score. Claire Holtz was fourth with a 33.325.

Rosemount started slow, trailing Bloomington Jefferson by two points after the first two events.

"That's like being down 18 at halftime in basketball," Passeri said. "We were getting smoked."

Kathy Aune was fourth against the Jaguars on the vault, scoring an 8.75. Nelson was the only place winner on the bars.

But things turned around on the balance beam. The Irish swept the top three spots in the final two events against Bloomington Jefferson.

Nelson won with her 9.2 score. Askew was second with an 8.7 and Holtz was third with an 8.45.

Askew then won the floor competition with a score of 8.95. Holtz placed second with an 8.9 and Aune was third with an 8.875.

"We did really well on the floor again and really well on the beam," Passeri said. "We can definitely make some improvement on the bars and our scores will see a huge improvement.

"They've all been nail-biters so far. We've had close, fun meets this year."

Rosemount was seventh at the Abby Invite two weeks ago, scoring 132.7. Nelson took fifth place out of 60 competitors on the beam with an 8.95.

"That's our lowest invite finish in six years," Passeri said. "We were third before. We have a lot of young kids. The teams that placed ahead of us, by the end of the year, we might finish higher because we have a lot of room for improvement and a lot of potential."

The Irish also beat Prior Lake, 133.975-133.15.