Dozens of the best high school gymnasts convened at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion on Saturday night, wowing a boisterous crowd with feats of athletic excellence, all competing for … second place.
This was Bailey DuPay's night, and everyone knew it.
In a performance that was as much a coronation as it was a championship, DuPay owned the meet from the outset, becoming the first gymnast to win three Class 2A all-around titles. Her score of 39.05 was the third-best in state history.
"This was my last gymnastics meet ever," DuPay said. "I just wanted to go out, have a crowning evening and enjoy myself."
Knowing her past success and cool-under-fire demeanor, fans paused from watching the rest of the meet every time it was DuPay's turn to perform, hoping to get a glimpse of history.
She delivered a 9.8 in her first event, the floor exercise, followed by nailing a handspring layout vault for a 9.85 and had an mistake-free uneven bars routine that scored a 9.8. After each event, the cheers got louder. By the time she got to the balance beam, the only question was if she would score high enough to reach 39. She did, posting a 9.6, becoming the first in state history to score 39 or better twice in state meet competition — she had a 39.0875 in 2014 — ensuring her status as one of, if not the best, high school gymnast in state history.
"I don't think that will sink in to me until later," she said.
Her coach, Paul Bernhard, said DuPay should be at least considered among the state's best.
"It's hard to say that she's the best," Bernhard said. "I'd say one of the top three of all time, that's for sure."
DuPay went into the meet with nine championships in her high school career, two team and seven individual. She finished with 13, winning every event except the balance beam. Only Mahtomedi's Mindy Myhre has more, with 18 in the early 1990s.
"I can say, without a doubt, I'll never be able to coach a gymnast like her again," Bernhard said.
One day after leading Detroit Lakes to its first Class 1A gymnastics team championship, sophomore Molly Lyngaas became the team's first all-around champion.
Expect sales of European Truffle pie to spike in Detroit Lakes.
Lyngaas' performance was the definition of all-around champion: She did not win an event but finished among the top 10 in each en route to a winning score of 38.025. Melrose sophomore Mady Brinkman made a strong push for the top spot, falling just short with a 38.0. Alexandria's Hannah Wendel, who had the best event score of the meet with a 9.875 in the vault, was third.
The atmosphere at the Sports Pavilion has been known to melt even the toughest gymnasts with its cavernous interior and echo-chamber acoustics. It had little effect on Lyngaas, however, who admitted that the Section 8 meet was more stressful.
"We get at least as many people for that," Lyngaas said. "That's a tough meet. And in practice, we're always yelling as loud as we can, getting used to noise."
Lyngaas' cool demeanor helped her to second on the uneven bars (9.6), third in the floor exercise (9.55) and fourth on vault (9.6). Her balance beam score of 9.35 was 10th overall.
After Friday's meet, Lyngaas planned to celebrate the team victory with pie. She did, enjoying a slice of European Truffle. "I'll probably get the same thing tonight," Lyngaas said Saturday. "Why change?"
Wendel, who also won the floor exercise with a score of 9.6, confirmed that her winning vault, a handspring front, is the toughest in high school gymnastics. She has been doing it for three years, but never as well as she did Saturday. The crowd agreed.
"That's as good as I've ever done it," Wendel said. "I couldn't hear the crowd during the vault, but I sure did after I landed."
Jennifer Boyle of Austin won the uneven bars (9.55) and Brinkman took first on the balance beam (9.65).