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Gymnastics: Irish state-bound

None of the members of the Rosemount gymnastics team were alive the last time the school sent a team to the state tournament.

The fifth-ranked Irish ended the program’s 21-year drought Friday night, coming from behind to capture their first section title since 1993, edging ninth-rated East Ridge 146.85-146.05 at the Section 3AA Championships at Eagan High School.

The team competes again Friday alongside the state’s seven other section champions at the Class 2A meet and individual qualifiers Josey Schlie, Meghan Creese and Shannon McCoy will return for the state individual competition Saturday night. Both meets will begin at 6 p.m. at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion.

“This is my first trip to state in 16 years (as coach). It was very exciting for me and the girls,” Rosemount coach Jason Passeri said.

The Irish fell behind by 1.2 points after the opening event — the uneven bars — but outscored East Ridge in the beam and took a slim lead of 25 thousandths of a point with a clutch 37.375 in the floor exercise.

“They nailed floor right before us, going 37.25 and we responded big under pressure,” Passeri said.

That meant the meet essentially came down to the vault and the Irish were at their best, scoring a 37.5 that was nearly two points better than their effort last week at Apple Valley. East Ridge, meanwhile, missed a pair of its vaults and fell eight tenths of a point off the Irish’s pace.

“They looked awesome in warm-ups on vault, so I knew it could be close,” Passeri said. “All our vaulters nailed their vaults and we had one of our best scores of the year. I had a pretty good feeling that we won, but was still a bit unsure and wanted to see the final results.”

Creese will represent the Irish at the state meet for the first time after capturing a section title in the vault with a score of 9.5. Schlie was right behind in second with a 9.475 and will compete in the all-around at state for the second straight year after finishing as the section runner-up with a cumulative score of 37.45.

McCoy added a sixth-place vault score of 9.325 that left her just five hundredths of a point outside of a state qualification in the event. McCoy will compete in the state individual tournament in the balance beam, however, after nabbing third place with a score of 9.325. McCoy ended up sixth in the all-around competition with a 36.325.

Schlie captured a second solo section title in the beam with a score of 9.65 and tied for first with Sarah Shank of Park with a 9.5 in the floor exercise. She was also seventh in the uneven bars, just ahead of teammate Kailey Askew in eighth and McCoy and Izzy Simdorn in a tie for 10th.

Askew added a sixth-place score of 9.375 during the floor exercise and Abby Nelson was seventh in both the beam and floor exercise and ninth in the all-around with a 35.8.