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Jays hope to finish strong

Calling the Jamestown High School gymnastics team overachievers would be over simplifying it.

Coach Dave Tews’ description is more fitting.

“It’s been a good year. I wouldn’t say we’ve overachieved, I’d say we’ve surprisingly achieved,” he said.

The label works because at the beginning of the season there were more questions than answers.

But the young and previously inexperienced team steadily improved and exceeded expectations along the way to the point where a top five finish, or better, at the state meet in Bismarck this weekend is possible.

“If you could go back three months and tell us where we’d be at now, we’d be happier than heck,” Tews said. “Last week was a down meet for us so that’s the latest taste in your mouth, but if you take a step back and look at it you can only be happy with how the girls have done this season and the improvements they’ve made.”

After steadily climbing team scores through January and February, they took a step back last week at the West Region meet with a score of 134.775. Getting back to where they had been is a worthy challenge and would represent a satisfying end to the season.

“After last week, if we can get back to where we have been — 137, 138, 139 — that would be really good,” Tews said. “If the judging is tough and we score a 137 we can still feel good about that. We just want to have a good meet. We can only do what we can do.”

The steady progress through the winter came despite adversity.

Junior Jenna Stilwell has missed much of the season with a shoulder injury and would have been a key contributor, particularly on vault. Other injuries, notably to senior Kaiann Arellano (ankle) and Madison Mandan (ankle), forced younger contributors to emerge and that happened.

“You look at some of these young kids that came out of nowhere like Maggie Ridley, Alexis Triebenbach. Hannah Schiele has really come on — they’ve really done a good job for us,” Tews said. “It’s exciting to see some of that new blood come in there and make an impact.”

They’ve also gotten steady performances from senior Abbie Conlon, who has had her best year and is qualified in the all around.

“She’s really improved a lot and she’s pretty close to being in the top 20 all-arounders. That’s a good achievement for her,” the coach said.

Tews credited Conlon, Arellano and Glynna Godfrey for performing well in their final season.

“They really turned into a good group. We’re going to miss them more than we realize,” Tews said.

Leading the way all year has been sophomore Erin Hillerud, who has given the Blue Jays a legitimate top-tier performer. The sophomore ranks in the top 10 in the state in all-around (36.517), beam (9.55) and floor (9.45).

“We certainly knew she was going to be good, but she kind of took it to a new level,” Tews said. “Really, right from the start of the year she’s been one of the better kids around.”

The Blue Jays compete in the team meet today with the individual competition on Saturday. They have six qualified in each event with three in the top 15 on vault in Hillerud (12th), Kailey Alber (14th) and Ridley (15th). Jayden Diemert rounds out the roster for the meet.

“With as well as the girls have done this season you’d sure like to see them go out with one more good meet,” Tews said. “But regardless of what happens, you can’t help but be really happy with how things have turned out.”

Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701)

952-8460 or by e-mail at

Dave Selvig
Selvig has been a sports writer at The Sun since 1999 and sports editor since 2009.
(701) 952-8460