Hillerud named WDA Athlete of the Year, Jays take third

The Jamestown High School gymnastics team competed at the West Region meet on Feb. 17.

Emma Hillerud, center, was named the 2023 West Region Senior Athlete of the Year at the WDA Gymnastics Meet. Contributed photo.

DICKINSON — As a sophomore, Emma Hillerud watched as Rachel Schiele was named the West Region Senior Athlete of the Year.

The next February, she watched and celebrated as Blue Jay alum Haley Nelson got the 2022 West Region Senior Athlete of the Year award.

On Feb. 17, 2023, it was Hillerud's turn to get a plaque.

Hillerud was picked as the 2023 West Region Senior Athlete of the Year at the WDA Regional Gymnastics Meet Friday evening in Dickinson.

"I am so honored to have received this award," Hillerud said. "It means that a lot of coaches think I am a good person and teammate and that means a lot to me. I think that the Blue Jays are just built on a foundation of good teamwork and good sportsmanship and other coaches notice it. I am so blessed to be a part of an amazing team and I can’t wait for one last meet with them."


As a team, the Blue Jays placed third out of eight competing teams, scoring 140.900. Dickinson won its sixth-consecutive WDA championship, scoring a monstrous 150.075. Century was the runner-up scoring 141.275. Century edged the Blue Jays out of a No. 2 ranking heading into the state tournament but as of Feb. 18, only 0.500 separates the Blue Jays from Century.

"Our mentality was to be confident in ourselves and squeeze every single muscle in our bodies," Hillerud said with a laugh. "We went in with the goal of a 143. Our team accomplished some of the goals we have been working towards. We have been wanting to work on execution and being confident in our skills. We are definitely getting there and hopefully, next week will be the best show of it."

Jamestown kicked off the regional meet on vault which wound up being a pretty great placement for the Blue Jays.

"We had a great meet," Carlson said. "We got to start on vault and we had our best vault day of the season. We landed all eight of our flipping vaults which hasn’t happened yet at a meet. Julia ended up tying her best vault score of a 9.5 and that was enough to win the event."

Carlson said Skari also threw in a new skill at bars this weekend and she was able to get the highest bar score of her career a 9.050. Skari placed fifth on bars, and tallied the Jays' best score by 0.60 points.

After some facing some challenges on bars, the Jays moved on to beam where Carlson said the Jays performed at the standard they needed to.

"Emma and Julia were reliable and were able to stick their routines," Carlson said. "Sutton (Van Gilder) was finally able to stick a beam routine at a meet and I think it was just enough to get her qualified for state on that event."

Skari's beam score came out to 9.025 while Van Gilder earned a 8.600. Hillerud's 8.450 rounded out the Jays' top-three scores on beam.


Once the Blue Jays finished on beam, they headed over to their final and seemingly favorite event of the evening.

"We got to end on floor which is typically the best way to end a meet," Carlson said. "Julia Emma and Allysah performed some of their best routines of the season and they were able to all put up a 9.2 or higher.

"Overall we were able to score our second-highest team score of the season which was great," she said. "We really had a great meet (and) we are so proud of Emma and are glad the western part of the state thinks she’s as great as we do."

West Region Gymnastics Meet

At Dickinson High School

Team results

1. Dickinson 150.075; 2. Century 141.275; 3. Jamestown 140.900; 4. Minot 138i.925; 5. Legacy 136.225; 6. Mandan 134.400; 7. Bismarck High 95.700; 8. Northwest Stars 95.125.

Individual top finishers / Blue Jay results


Vault: 1. Julia Skari, JHS, 9.500; 11. Blair Arbuckle 9.050; 16. Emma Hillerud 8.950; 23. Sutton Van Gilder 8.875; 35. Allysah Larson 8.825; 26. Jozie Davis 8.800; 28. Sydney Fisher 8.750; 49. Jasmine Houmann 8.000.

Bars: 1. Elizabeth Karsky, DHS, 9.500; 5. Skari 9.050; 12. Arbuckle 8.450; 21. Aubrey Krapp 8.000; 24. Lydia Stoterau 7.850; 27. Sutton Van Gilder 7.750; 29. Allysah Larson 7.600; 40. Jasmine Houmann 6.950; 42. Hillerud 6.800.

Beam: 1. Reygan Strommen, DHS, 9.450; 5. Skari 9.025; 12. Sutton Van Gilder 8.600; 19. Emma Hillerud 8.450; 26. Sydney Fisher 8.200; 29. Lucy Falk 8.100; 32. Houmann 8.025; 33. Arbuckle 8.000; 41. Larson 7.575;

Floor: 1. Rylee Olson 9.750; 5. Julia Skari 9.500; 13. Allysah Larson 9.275; 14. Emma Hillerud 9.200; 22. Sydney Fisher 8.925; 34. Sutton Van Gilder 8.425; 41. Jozie Davis 8.050; 49. Jasmine Houmann 7.450.

All-around: 1. Elizabeth Karsky, DHS, 37.900; 2. Julia Skari 37.075; 20. Sutton Van Gilder 33.650; 23. Emma Hillerud 33.400; 24. Allysah Larson 33.275; 25. Blair Arbuckle 33.125; 32. Houmann 30.425; 42. Sydney Fisher 25.875; 52. Jozie Davis 16.875; 61. Lucy Falk 8.100; 62. Aubrey Krapp 8.000; 67. Lydia Stoterau 7.850.

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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