Blue Jays set to perform in front of hometown crowd

The Jamestown High School gymnastics team is set to host the WDA tournament at Jamestown High School on Feb. 18.

jhs gymnastics emma hillerud bars from 121421.jpg
Emma Hillerud, is one of nine Jamestown High School gymnasts who will compete at the WDA Tournament on Feb. 18 at Jamestown High School.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

JAMESTOWN — The Jamestown High School gymnastics team is planning to do two main things in their home gym Friday night.

Cheer each other on and stick their landings.

"We love that we are Jamestown Blue Jay gymnasts, and we can compete anywhere against anyone but to do it at home in front of our friends and family is a highlight of the season," Blue Jay freshman Julia Skari said. "Our team goals are to do the best as we can with all our potential as a team and to support each other as teammates."

The Blue Jays are set to host the 2022 WDA Championships Friday night at Jerry Meyer Arena. The tumbling and twisting is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

"These girls have been working really hard all year," JHS head coach Andrea Bitz said. "Sticking our passes on floor, staying on the beam and all our fumbles are hopefully are all worked out. Now, everything should come togethe


Jamestown is coming off a first-place finish at their own Jamestown Giving Hearts Triangular on Feb. 10. The Jays tumbled their way to 144.100 team points, outscoring second-place Fargo by almost 18 points.

Jamestown has been averaging a score of 142.625 with its highest score being 144.500, which placed them second at the Hi-Liner Invite in Valley City on Dec. 17. Dickinson won the Valley City Invite with a score of 147.075.

The team's lowest score came at the Minot Invite on Feb. 4, where they scored their lowest score of the season — a 138.400 — which placed them third behind Dickinson and last season state runners-up, Valley City.

The Blue Jay roster is down to nine girls who will be competing at WDAs and the state meet. A team score is calculated by the judges taking the top-four scores of a team in each event.

"Everybody is stepping up and trying to get their score to count for the team score," Bitz said. "Haley (Nelson) has been doing very well in the all-around, Brenna (Hatch) has been pushing good on vault, Blair (Arbuckle) in the all-around, Sydney (Fisher) has been really strong for us on beam and floor — I think they are all just contributing as much as they can to the team score."

Bitz said that in addition to Nelson and Arbuckle, Emma Hillerud, Allysah Larson and Skari will be big names for the Jays when it comes to the all-around competition.

Nelson, the lone senior for the Jays, has pulled out 10 top-three performances in the all-around this season. She has won four all-around titles. The senior is currently ranked fourth in the state in the all-around, behind three gymnasts from Dickinson who are all within .408 of Nelson's 37.575 average.

Arbuckle is sitting at the No. 19 spot in all-around average scores. The junior's collection of recorded all-around scores have shaken out to a 34.658. Arbuckle is coming off her best performance of the year, hitting a third-place all-around finish. She managed a top-three score in the beam, bars and floor contest and got eighth on vault.


"This weekend I just need to let all my nerves go so that I can do my best for the team and have fun," Arbuckle said. "It gives me a lot of confidence going into WDA knowing that I’m capable of performing as well as I did the last meet.

"(As a team) now we know that we are capable of doing that well so we can do it again or do even better."

Skari and Hillerud are both ranked in the top-10 for all-around averages with Skari sitting ninth with a 36.050 and Hillerud in tenth at 35.900.

Hatch is averaging a 9.083 on vault while Fisher has cracked the top-35 with an 8.95 average on floor.

"Our strongest event is definitely floor because we all perform really well most of the time and have a lot of fun with our routines," Arbuckle said. "Our weakest is event is probably beam but I think that if we all work hard to stay on the beam consistently then we can score higher as a team."

The Jays have five gymnasts ranked in the top-15 on floor for overall average scores. Nelson currently holds the top-spot with an average score of 9.65.

The beam is a bit of a different story as the Jays have five gymnasts in the top 25. Nelson, again, is the Blue Jays top performer with her scores averaging out to a 9.508. The average has ranked Nelson as the third-best beam performer.

With all the weapons in place, Jamestown is poised to make a run at a fourth straight WDA runners-up title this season. Preliminarily, Bitz said Dickinson, Jamestown and Century would likely round out the top-three at Friday's competition.


"I think that is totally something we can achieve, we just need to keep our mental game on the positive note and I think they are going to do very well," Bitz said of earning a runners-up title. "It usually always comes down to who can stay on the beam and who can stay on their feet on floor."

Century earned its top score of the season last Friday at the Dickinson Invite where they flipped their way to a 140.825, second-place finish. Prior to hitting the 140-mark, the Patriots were consistently scoring in the 132-138 point range.

"They are pretty strong on almost all of the events and just like any other team," Bitz said of Century. "When you have kids who can hit routines on almost every event, those team scores seem to increase quite quickly."

While Century could give the Jays a run for their money, the Blue Jays are still focused on performing their best and will be working to catch Dickinson. The Midgets are ranked first in the state and have averaged a score of 148.007 across their 11 meets.

"Our goal as a team is to just do our best and hopefully come out with a WDA championship," Arbuckle said. "It’s definitely gonna be hard to do but I think that if we do good on all of the events and not just two or three, then it’s definitely possible."

Katie Ringer is a sports reporter for the Jamestown Sun. Katie joined the Sun staff in the summer of 2019 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a degree in journalism. She can be reached by email at or by phone at 701-952-8460.
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