MEGAN RUSSELL

Cretin-Derham Hall • Gymnastics

With her body feeling the aches of 14 years as a club gymnast and the chance to compete for her high school disappearing, the senior decided last fall to pursue a new challenge.

It was a decision that has paid of more handsomely than she dared hope. Saturday, she won the Section 4, Class 2A individual all-around championship with a score of 37.825, with first-place finishes on the balance beam and vault and second place in the floor exercise.

“I really just wanted to do something different in my last year,” Russell said. “I’m having a lot of fun with my friends and I’m scoring well. This season has definitely gone better than I expected.”

Heading into her first experience at the Class 2A state meet, where she will compete in the individual competition Saturday evening, Russell said that physically she’s feeling better than she has in years.

 

SARAH BEZDICEK

Osseo • Nordic skiing

Not long ago, Bezdicek wondered if she belonged among the top Nordic ski racers in Minnesota. The senior proved herself worthy by blowing away the competition at the girls’ state meet, winning the pursuit championship in a combined time of 34:16.5, nearly 50 seconds ahead of the runner-up.

 

ELLIOT BOMAN

Northfield • Alpine skiing

First state meet appearance? No big deal. A broken leg at the start of the season? Ancient history. Boman, a sophomore, skied his two runs at the boys’ state meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik fearlessly, posting a combined time of 1:10.19, on the way to the Alpine state championship.

 

LEO HIPP

Forest Lake • Nordic skiing

The senior continued his four-year progression to the top of the prep Nordic skiing world with a victory in the boys’ state meet, winning the pursuit championship in a combined time of 28:32.0. Hipp finished 69th as a ninth-grader, 47th as a sophomore and third as a junior.

 

TAYLOR GUCKEEN

Champlin Park • gymnastics

The junior won the all-around at the Section 5, 2A meet Thursday with a score of 37.575. She won the floor exercise and the balance beam and took second on the uneven bars. Guckeen and teammate Liz Hammond, who finished second in all-around, led the Rebels to their second state-meet berth in a row.

 

TAYLOR KOENEN

Shakopee • basketball

It was a 17th birthday to remember for the 6-2 junior. She had 32 points and 10 rebounds in a 63-53 victory over Lakeville North, avenging an earlier 20-point loss to the Panthers. The North Carolina recruit added 20 points in a victory over Apple Valley.

 

JACK STENSGAARD

Simley • basketball

The junior guard scored 24 points, including the 1,000th of his career, in a 98-46 victory over South St. Paul, and followed that with 21 points in a 57-55 victory over St. Thomas Academy, hitting a game-winning floater with 2 seconds left for the victory.

JIM PAULSEN