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WARRIORS ATHLETE OF WEEK: Cerney bidding for third trip to state

Just a few weeks into the gymnastics season Mikayla Cerney is taking strides toward returning to the state meet.

Only a sophomore, but already a four-year varsity performer, Cerney is bidding for her third trip to state after finishing 28th on the uneven bars in 2011 and 31st on floor exercise in 2010.

She took a stride in that direction in the season opener Dec. 8 against Sauk Rapids where she won the floor exercise by scoring an 8.5 and finished fifth in the all-around competition.

“Just the girls cheering really pumped me up for it, got me exited,” Cerney said of her floor win. “There was a lot of energy.”

A week later against Alexandria, she won the balance beam with a 9.0 and captured what she believes is her first varsity all-around title with a score of 34.9.

“It was exciting, a lot of fun,” Cerney said. “There was a lot of energy there too. My beam routine was good. We had a lot of girls stick. That set the mood for it.”

Warriors coach Dave Maras said Cerney has been one of the team’s most consistent performers thus far.

“She just quietly goes about her business,” he said. “And, when the time comes to compete she just rises to the occasion.”

In the Warriors’ holiday invite last weekend, Cerney placed 10th on bars (8.55), 11th on beam (9.10), 35th on floor (8.30) and 12th on vault (8.75) for an all-around total of 34.7, which placed her 11th. Maras thought Cerney performed one of her better beam routines, and a solid vault.

“She kind of got distracted by the injury on floor, as most of the teams were, but she still did a nice job,” he said. “For the most part she’s stuck her beam routines all year. She’s been solid.”

Park of Cottage Grove gymnast Rachel Deephouse fell off the bars, bringing the meet to a halt, until she recovered.

“Her whole bar routine was going bad,” Cerney said. “She went for her dismount, I think she did a double back, and didn’t make it. She fell right on her neck. It was kind of scary.”

Maras said it’s difficult to pick Cerney’s best event.

“I think her beam, bars and floor are all pretty much on par,” he said. “Just this week she finally picked up skill on her bars. That’s getting better. If there’s an area to work on she needs to get a little tougher vault.

“She’s finally starting to reach the next level. It’s been fun to watch. It takes a while. She was a little shaky here and there, but she’s gone on to be a great gymnast.”

Maras said it’s a pleasure to coach Cerney.

“When you want her to try something new, she gives it a shot,” he said. “She’s not afraid to step it up a little bit.”

Cerney hopes to put up solid scores the rest of the season, stick her routines, win more events and garner her third trip to state.

“State is a lot of fun,” she said. “It really showed me there are a lot of good things out there. I like the competition. (State) gave me more confidence to do good.”

Other notable efforts:

• Justin Kuglin and Josh McKeag, swimming, each won two events and were on first-place relays against Tech.

• Zoe Wolhart, girls hockey, had a hat trick against the St. Cloud Icebreakers.

• Matt Pohlkamp, boys hockey, had hat tricks against Apollo and Willmar.

• Mitch McLain, boys hockey, had a goal and three assists against Apollo and a hat trick against Monticello.

•Madison Grausam, gymnastics, won the floor exercise and vault against Alexandria.

• Jace Engelmann, wrestling, went 3-0 at the Frazee tournament.

• Savannah Stone, Alpine skiing, won the girls race at the St. Cloud Invitational.