MCA’s Steen, JCC trio set for state

WELCOME – Martin County Area gymnast Rebecca Steen probably knows every nook and cranny of the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis.

The Magic junior co-captain qualified for the Class A state competition for an incredible eighth time by capturing third place in the Section 3 Meet’s all-around, including a gold-medal performance on the vault, last Saturday.

Steen will join forces with Jackson County Central’s senior trio of Sydnee Donnelli, Brandi Sether-Hassing and Adriane Rentschler as Section 3’s multi-tasking all-arounders hitting the Pavilion’s equipment in Saturday’s 11 a.m. Class A individual state meet.

“Becca’s finally healthy and her ankle’s good, so that’s a plus at this time of the season,” said Martin County Area mentor LeeAnn Steen. “Obviously, we won’t change anything in her routines or add anything new at this point of the season.

“Just qualifying (for state) is the difficult part, so we consider this week a bonus. Now, we just want to enjoy the atmosphere at the state meet, and let the chips fall where they may.”

Rebecca Steen, Donnelli, Sether-Hassing and Rentschler will match their high-scoring skills against 14 state medalists returning from the top 30 spots a year ago, including three in the all-around competition.

Austin’s Sela Fadness represents the top individual threat to return to the podium on Saturday after earning medals in the all-around (third), floor exercise (first), uneven parallel bars (fourth) and vault (third) during the 2012 state meet.

Lydia Butkowski and Jailyn Brinkman, each key members of last year’s Class A state team champion Melrose Area, round out the returning medal-winners in the all-around. Butkowski captured fifth place overall on the strength of a sixth-place medal on vault, while Brinkman placed sixth in the all-around behind a second-place finish on the unevens.

Steen will join Rentschler, the 2013 Section 3 beam champion, along with 2012 state runner-up beam worker Sarah Hoffman of New Prague and Little Falls’ Rachelle LeBlanc (sixth place) on the 4 inch-wide apparatus after meriting a fourth-place state medal last February.

Steen also will aim at duplicating her stellar three top-10 showings en route to an eighth-place finish in the 2012 Class A all-around competition. In addition to her medal-winning ways on beam, Steen also claimed seventh on the vault and ninth on the floor last season.

The two-time Section 3 all-around champion and her sectional teammates will hit the Pavilion’s floor during the Class A individual meet’s opening rotation. Unfortunately for Steen, the floor is the only piece that she did not qualify for from an individual perspective.

“They (the state rotations) are what they are, and they’re set, so you just have to take them one at a time,” said LeeAnn Steen.

Rebecca Steen and Section 3 will compete on the vault during the meet’s third rotation, move to the unevens during the fifth round and close on the beam in the next-to-last rotation.

Steen, this year’s Section 3 vault winner, will square off against Fadness (third) and Butkowski (sixth) in a battle of Tsukaharas, while Section 3 floor champion Sydnee Donnelli will contend with returning state medalists Fadness (first) and Austin’s Abby Bickler (fourth) on the floor. Sether-Hassing, the Section 3 unevens champion, will battle four returning state medalists in Brinkman (second), Fadness (fourth), Big Lake’s Courtney Jensen (fifth) and New Prague’s Christine Simon (sixth) on the low and high bars on Saturday.

Sether-Hassing, Donnelli and Rentschler also will spearhead JCC’s performance in Friday’s Class A state team meet at 11 a.m. at the Sports Pavilion.

The Huskies will be one of seven state qualifiers returning from a year ago, including defending Class A winner Melrose Area and runner-up New Prague.