Jamestown High School's Haley Nelson stuck the landing and secured her best vault of the season Friday, Feb. 1, at the Kim Lupo Memorial Invite in Minot.
The freshman scored a 9.4 out of a possible 9.8 with her particular choice in leap, and her reward didn't happen overnight. The fourth-ranked Blue Jays leapfrogged Grand Forks and Bismarck Legacy to place second at the eight-team competition with a team score of 136.950.
"Haley earned the reward, finally, by working on it and doing the little things she needed to do," said JHS gymnastics coach Dave Tews. "It was an impressive vault. Haley's always been sky high on everything she does, but until you're standing there-from the beginning and all the way through to the end-you haven't fully executed it.
"That's the nature of the sport."
The Kim Lupo Memorial included the state's top five programs, with three-time defending state champion Dickinson again landing at the top of the podium (144.250). Jamestown finished more than 2 full points ahead of Grand Forks (134.925), the state's second-ranked program. Fifth-ranked Bismarck (134.775) and No. 3 Bismarck Legacy (133.250) were close behind.
"We were the second-place team on bars, and that's unheard of for us, and we were the third-place team on beam," Tews said. "On floor, we dropped. We struggled there a little and that brought us down, but those two events (bars and beam) we did really well and that solidified our score enough to keep us up there."
Nelson wound up in a three-way tie for second on vault with Dickinson's Alyann Fossum and Minot's Bella Brice, after scoring a previous high mark of 9.325. She came in fourth on floor (9.45) and third on beam (8.925) to place third in the all-around (36.325), behind Fossum and Bismarck's Kate Dillman.
JHS sophomore Rachel Schiele soared to over a 9.0 on the uneven bars, coming in second at 9.025. Schiele has scored as high as 9.2 in the event this winter.
"Rachel had the second-best bars score, and if Haley doesn't fall on her dismount she would've been right there as well," Tews said. "No matter how you look at it, those two are pretty darn important for us and we're now starting to develop a little bit of depth."
The team's growth is showing up in the overall scores. Jamestown posted a season-high 141.40 on Jan. 26 while hosting the Jamestown Winter Classic. JHS, Grand Forks, Legacy and Dickinson are the only teams to have topped 140 this season.
But the rich have been getting richer in Dickinson. The Midgets reportedly scored a program record 151.725 at home on Jan. 26.
The season is in the home stretch. The Blue Jays host Fargo South, Fargo Davies and Grand Forks on Thursday, Feb. 7, before packing a bag for the WDA Championships back in Minot on Feb. 15.
Jamestown hosts the state competition Feb. 22-23 at Jerry Meyer Arena.
"It wasn't our best score (Friday), but it wasn't anybody's best score and I was very, very pleased," Tews said. "Injuries are starting to show up here and there and let's hope we are not one of them."
Kim Lupo Memorial Invite
1. Dickinson 144.250. 2. Jamestown 136.950. 3. Grand Forks Red River-Grand Forks Central 134.925. 4. Bismarck High 134.775. 5. Bismarck Legacy 133.250. 6. Bismarck Century 122.925. 7. Mandan 120.800. 8. Minot 98.200.
Individual Top 5
All around: 1. Ayanna Fossum, D, 37.075. 2. Kate Dillman, B, 36.575. 3. Haley Nelson, J, 36.325. 4. Bella Price, Minot, 35.800. 5. Meghan Ackerman, D, 35.775.
Vault: 1. Dillman, D, 9.550. T2. Fossum, D, 9.400. T2. Nelson, J, 9.400. T2. Price, Minot, 9.400. 5. Brinklyn Schumacher, D, 9.350.
Uneven bars: 1. Ackerman, D, 9.400. 2. Rachel Schiele, J, 9.025. 3. Sydnee Spivey, GF, 9.000. 4. Fossum, D, 8.825. 5. Schumacher, D, 8.775.
Balance beam: 1. Fossum, D, 9.200. 2. Elicca Stugelmeyer, BL, 9.075. 3. Nelson, J, 8.925. T4. Dillman, B, 8.800. T4. Deguzman, D, 8.800.
Floor exercise: 1. Fossum, D, 9.650. 2. Price, Minot, 9.575. 3. Dillman, B, 9.525. 4. Nelson, J, 9.450. 5. Spivey, GF, 9.300.