Megan Trollen of East Ridge, performs on the vault (Caroline Yang, Special to the Star Tribune)
Megan Trollen and Wren Anderson may well go down in history as the finest twosome ever to win an individual state meet.
The East Ridge seniors, teammates and close friends finished 1-2 atop the Class 2A all-around leaderboard Saturday at the gymnastics state meet. Trollen won the title with a four-event score of 38.3 with Anderson right behind at 38.1. They flip-flopped their order of finish from the Section 3 meet, which Anderson won with Trollen as runner-up.
“Before the section meet, we said let’s go 1-2 and we did,” said a beaming Trollen. “When we got here, we said ‘Let’s do it again’.”
Neither seemed concerned with the order of finish. Anderson, who had concluded the regular season on a high note and looked to be a favorite coming, gushed about owning the top of the leaderboard with her close friend.
“There is no way I would be where I am without having her with me,” Anderson said. “She pushes me and I push her. We make each other better. There’s nothing better than going out in our last meet like this.”
Trollen and Anderson began the meet on vault. Trollen posted a 9.5 (“Which was good for me. I usually score around 9.3,” Trollen said), and was followed by Anderson, who bettered that score with 9.55, setting the stage for the most friendly of duels.
Next up was the balance beam, where Trollen said “meets are won or lost.” She nailed her routine with a 9.55, enough to win the event overall.
But it was on the uneven parallel bars that Trollen took control. She scored a 9.55, finally hitting the routine she had worked to perfect. “It was my best bars ever,” she said. “I was so excited after that.”
The cherry on top was a 1-2 finish in their final event of the night, the floor exercise. Anderson took first, with a 9.775, Trollen right behind her with a 9.675.
“The floor exercise felt so great,” Anderson said. “It’s our favorite event, so we said ‘Let’s go out anf give them a show.’ ”
When their names were announced, in reverse order, to take their places at the top of the podium, they rose together, as if expecting to share the top spot. They couldn’t, of course, but if one was watching the post-match interviews, it would have been difficult to tell who won.
“I thought of all the hard work we’ve put in and the pressure,” Trollen said. “Finishing this way it so much better that I thought it could be.”
Champlin Park 7th-grader Chaney Neu took third with score of 37.975. Henry Sibley’s Sophie Redding won the vault with a 9.725 and Rochester Century’s Natalia Jacobson won the uneven bars with a 9.6.
Austin junior excels
Maddie Mullenbach never foresaw this, never saw it coming.
The Austin junior, whose primary goal going into the Class 1A individual meet was to win the floor exercise, took things even further, winning the all-around championship with a season-high score of 38.125.
“I definitely did not come into this thinking I was going to win all-around,” Mullenbach said. “I was hoping I might place, but winning? That was exciting.”
Mullenbach credits a mental strategy that would bankrupt self-help gurus if her secret got out.
Starting Saturday’s meet on the most daunting of events, the balance beam, Mullenbach engaged in a little self-talk. “I’m always nervous on beam, but I told myself, ‘I’m not nervous.’ And I wasn’t,” she said.
That’s it? No tricks or tools or mediation or anything?
“No, nothing really,” she said. “Actually, I was super excited to start on beam because I could get it out of the way. And I knew if I did well and it was done and over with, that would carry over.”
Mullenbach scored a meet-winning 9.575 in balance beam and it did indeed carry over.
She finished among the top four in every other event and had a feeling she would place pretty high in the all-around, but still never entertained the thought that she’d win until the scores were being announced.
“I was waiting for my name to be called and I didn’t hear it,” she said. “When I heard my name, it was shocking. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. This is the biggest thing I’ve ever done.”
This was nothing short of a Kerri Strug moment.
Despite a severely sprained left ankle that chipped a bone in her left ankle when it happened, Big Lake senior Mallary Dick brought down the house with a terrific performance in the uneven parallel bars, winning the event with a score of 9.725.
Dick injured her ankle in the Section 7A meet after landing a vault. She managed to qualify for the state meet on bars despite the injury and persuaded her doctor to allow her to compete at the state meet.
“I needed a note from my doctor. They wanted to make sure I knew the risks,” Dick said. “This was important to me.”
Dick nailed her routine, sticking her double-backflip landing despite the pain she knew it would cause.
“I’ve got a high tolerance for pain,” she said. “Nothing was going to stop me today.”
Melrose freshman Greta Klaphake won in vault, Detroit Lakes sophomore Emma Disse in floor exercise.