Somersaulting squad

Cannon Falls gymnasts compete on the Northfield gymnastic team.

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Somersaulting squad

Ellie, Laurie, and Saundra are smiling after a successful competition.

Ellie, Laurie, and Saundra are smiling after a successful competition.

Laurie Miller

Ellie, Laurie, and Saundra are smiling after a successful competition.

Laurie Miller

Laurie Miller

Ellie, Laurie, and Saundra are smiling after a successful competition.

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Losing a home didn’t stop the Raider gymnasts, but instead, made them stronger. After being unable to practice at the Northfield Gymnastics Club, the Northfield high school team moved into the old K-Mart in Dundas. Saundra Stodden, Ellie Stodden, and Laurie Miller, the three Cannon Falls gymnasts, ended up having one of the best seasons of their careers despite the situation. With the twins being juniors and Laurie being a senior, they weren’t letting anything stand in their way of success.

The first few weeks in the new gym were extremely difficult due to unfamiliar equipment and the lack of a foam pit, but the team quickly adjusted. Saundra commented, “The first month in the new gym was quite the adventure. We hit lots of obstacles with the new equipment and lack of equipment, but we managed to keep our heads held high and had a lot of great team bonding.”

The roads were so bad that we were forced to stay at a teammates house that night, but I’d do it over again for the sport I love”

— Ellie Stodden

On top of the location change, the weather presented itself as a major issue this season. With the insane amount of snow Minnesota received this winter, Saundra, Ellie, and Laurie struggled with making it to Northfield due to road conditions. Specifically, one Tuesday in which it was a complete whiteout, Cannon Falls school buses were going into ditches and these three were driving themselves to practice. “It was definitely the worst condition I’ve ever driven in. The roads were so bad that we were forced to stay at a teammates house that night, but I’d do it over again for the sport I love,” Ellie Stodden stated.

The Raiders’ hard work and dedication to the sport paid off. Every day, the team improved and got one step closer to state. Saundra and Ellie competed all-around while Laurie just competed vault and did conditioning due to a stress-fracture in her back. It was very mentally challenging for Laurie to only half-way participate in her senior season, but the memories she gained this year are something she’ll never lose. Both of the Stodden girls excelled during both competitions and practices. The high school team won all of their regular season meets except for the Faribault Invite and Owatonna dual. On February 9th, the conference meet was held in Winona and Northfield placed second behind Owatonna while Ellie received All Conference Honorable Mention.

The following week, the gymnasts headed to Farmington for their section meet. Although the odds were stacked against them, the NHS gymnastics team was confident they could win the gold. Starting on vault, Ellie competed an impressive pike tsuk, earning a 9.45 and third place. The next event she competed was beam, which had been the biggest obstacle of Ellie’s season. Each meet, she struggled to go for her back tuck, so the coaches took it out for the section meet, which worked out very well for Ellie. Her solid, clean routine got a 9.125, which placed fourth. Finally, she competed floor in which she received another 9.125. Ellie would be heading to her first state competition on vault and beam.

And in second place with a score of 146.425, the Northfield Raiders”

Once it was time for team awards, the Northfield raiders sat in a circle, holding hands and hoping their team would be called for first place. After having an extremely impressive competition, they knew it would be close. “And in second place with a score of 146.425, the Northfield Raiders,” the commentator announced. That was only 6 tenths behind Owatonna, which would have been one fall and a single pointed toe.

Although the team was disappointed they narrowly missed going to state, they were extremely proud that they had achieved their best score of the season. Their hard work throughout truly did pay off. The three Cannon Falls girls have forged bonds with their Northfield teammates that would have never been possible without the agreement between the two schools, and a symbol of their struggles and successes that would have never been achievable without an old K-Mart.

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