Defending Class 2A champion Roseville, which set national scoring records during its run of state titles from 2006 to 2009, appeared to have set itself up for another string of state championships.
Then junior Katie Quigley, the Raiders' top all-arounder, suffered a season-ending knee injury. A significant loss, obviously, but Roseville's depth is such that it should be able to absorb the blow.
The Raiders still will be favorites in Class 2A, but with dangerous teams such as Park of Cottage Grove and Northfield lurking, the road became a little bumpier.
Opportunity in Class 1A
With its team championship last year, Melrose broke Perham's eight-year stranglehold on the Class 1A team title.
Melrose lost its top gymnast to graduation, and Perham's extreme youth -- the Yellowjackets have 10 seventh- and eighth-graders on their roster -- means that the Class 1A title is there for the taking.
One team poised to step up is New Prague. The Trojans were runners-up to Melrose last year and their top gymnasts -- seniors Jessica and Jaimie Niedermayer, junior Sarah Hoffman and sophomore Bridget Ellanson -- all qualified for the state individual tournament.
"If we can stay healthy, we should be one of the favorites at state this year," coach Matt Shetka said.
Hitting a crossroads?
Boys' gymnastics at the high school level died more than 20 years ago, a casualty of shrinking participation.
There is concern that girls' gymnastics eventually could go the same way.
Most of the elite-level gymnasts in Minnesota do not compete in high school, preferring the more intensive training of local clubs. With the number of qualified spotters shrinking and newer, more restrictive safety guidelines for gymnastics facilities, a growing number of coaches worry that high school gymnastics may be fading away.
"My prediction is that, in 10 years, you won't have high school gymnastics anymore," one recently retired coach said. "I'd be sorry to see that."