A club gymnast since she was very young, Mahtomedi senior Kasey Lenarz has a tried-and-true method for dealing with nerves before a big meet.
Faced with her first MSHSL gymnastics individual state meet Saturday, Lenarz did just what’s she’s always done to shoo away butterflies: She danced, boogieing her way straight into the Class 1A vault and balance beam championships and holding off a hard charge from defending champion Maddie Mullenbach of Austin to win the all-around competition with a score of 38.6.
“I knew I was going to be nervous because this was my last meet ever,” said Lenarz, whose all-around score was just .15 shy of the Class 1A state meet record. “I wanted to come out and have fun. I love to dance. When the music played, that’s what I did between events.”
Lenarz wasted no time setting the tone for her meet. She led off the day’s vaulting competition with a 9.825, a score that stood atop the standings from start to finish. She followed with a meet-winning 9.55 on balance beam (“I’m not a beam person. I’m always nervous on beam,” she admitted) and cut a rug to the all-around crown after that.
“I just have fun dancing,” Lenarz said. “I had a few people tell me, ‘Don’t quit your day job,’ because my dancing was a little bad. I did get a compliment on my dancing, which made me very happy.”
Mahtomedi coach Deb Driscoll said she thought Lenarz, who had reached a Level 10 in club gymnastics, had a chance to win the all-around when Driscoll found out last fall that Lenarz was joining the team.
“This is exactly what I hoped would happen,” said Driscoll, who is in her 40th season as the Zephyrs head coach.
Driscoll compared Lenarz to Mindy Myhre, who won four consecutive Class 1A all-around titles for Mahtomedi from 1991 through 1994.
“Her and Mindy are the two best I’ve ever coached,” Driscoll said, moving her hands up and down to show the balance between the two. “She hasn’t fallen on any event since the first Saturday [of January].”
Mullenbach won the floor exercise with a score of 9.8 — Lenarz was second with a 9.7 — and Mady Brinkman of Melrose and Jada Olsen of Perham shared the uneven bars title, each scoring a 9.65.