MARSHALL - In her first gymnastics competition of the year, Marshall sophomore Nikki McNair certainly didn't show very many signs of rust. McNair won all four events and took the all-around title in the Tigers' dual against Benson/Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg Thursday at Marshall High School.
McNair's individual effort, however, wasn't quite enough to help her young squad overtake the visitors in the team competition, with Benson/KMS winning 118.275 to 112.225.
McNair's night got off to an exciting start with her first event, where she landed a vault she had never completed before to help earn her a score of 9.1.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Marshall’s Ella Kovash poses at the end of her floor exercise Thursday in the Tigers’ dual against Benson/Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg.
"This was her first time landing that vault and it was a higher degree of difficulty than what she did last year, so it was really exciting for her," Marshall head coach Amy Daniels said. "It was a big stick, so I'm expecting the scores in her future meets to go even higher."
Momentum kept building for McNair from there, as she went on to win the bars (8.500), balance beam (7.900) and floor exercise (8.750) for a total of 34.250 in the all-around.
While a solid effort was expected out of McNair, a two-time state qualifier, the Tigers didn't quite know what they were going to get from a trio of gymnasts competing in their first varsity event with sophomore Brooke Louwagie and seventh-graders Natalie Rademacher and Ella Kovash. Louwagie performed on the vault and bars, while Rademacher was on the beam and Kovash did the floor exercise.
While the newcomers aren't yet a threat to reach the podium, Daniels said she was proud of how her youngest gymnasts performed in their first competition.
"Both Natalie and Ella did very well," Daniels said. "They were kind of nervous being thrown into a varsity meet and they did great, so that's another confidence boost that they can build on."
McNair was the only Tiger to finish in the top three of any event Thursday. Shelby Maes narrowly missed out on a medal with a fourth-place finish in the vault (8.025) and Stephanie St. Aubin got fourth in the floor exercise (7.925).
Daniels said there were a lot of mistakes from her gymnasts in their first meet, which was to be expected with a young group. But overall, she was pleased with the team's performance and thinks her gymnasts have something to build on.
"It was a good effort for our first meet, but we definitely have a lot of room for improvement," she said. "A lot of it is just going to be confidence. We had a lot of jitters and a lot of wobbles that we shouldn't have later down the road. A fall is half a point and I think we had a significant amount of falls on the beam and the floor. Putting it all together and eliminating those will definitely improve our score overall."
The Tigers will return to action Saturday for an invitational at Mankato East.
Benson/KMS 118.275, Marshall 112.225
Marshall Individual Results
Vault: 1. Nikki McNair 9.1; Shelby Maes 8.025; 5. Sam Madden 8.000; Stephanie St. Aubin 7.850; Brooke Louwagie 7.500.
Bars: 1. McNair 8.500; 3. Maes 7.350; St. Aubin 5.200; Madden 4.275; Louwagie 4.100.
Beam: 1. McNair 7.900; Madden 5.700; St. Aubin 5.500; Maes 5.150; Natalie Rademacher 3.900.
Floor: 1. McNair 8.750; St. Aubin 7.925; Maes 6.850; Madden 6.150; Ella Kovash 4.250.
All-Around: 1. McNair 34.250; Maes 27.375; St. Aubin 26.475; Madden 24.125.