NEW ULM - Michaela Otterstatter was undoubtedly firing on all cylinders during New Ulm's South Central Conference gymnastics meet against Waseca on Thursday.
The same can be said about the rest of her teammates, too.
Otterstatter earned a pair of personal bests on the night to place first in the all-around, pacing the Eagles as they combined for a season-best score to defeat the Bluejays 137.075-132.1.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm’s Emily Gulden competes in the floor exercise during the Eagles’ meet against Waseca Thursday.
"It's the highest score of the season, and probably the highest score in the last few years, so it's amazing," New Ulm head coach Ariel McFarland said. "They were very on, it was wonderful, it was nice to see."
Otterstatter took first place on the vault (9.125), beam (9.3) and floor (8.775) in the meet while placing third on the bars (8.1). She broke her previous personal bests on both the vault and the beam.
Otterstatter's near-flawless beam routine earned the highest score of the meet in any of the events.
"My beam score has been pretty consistent, but it was really nice to beat my old record from before," Otterstatter said. "It's really encouraging to get the higher score, and it's encouragement to keep working on getting my jumps higher."
Despite her personal success, Otterstatter was just as excited to help the Eagles put together such a high team score.
"It's really exciting, because I don't just compete for myself, it's for the team," Otterstatter said. "I want to do well for the team, and we all work together to get this score, so when it finally comes together, it's really encouraging."
New Ulm senior Kim Berg gave the Eagles a sweep of first-place finishes by winning on the bars with a score of 8.45. Berg impressed with her ability to halt her momentum at the top of her arc and with a backward flip on her dismount.
Emily Gulden had second-place finishes for New Ulm on the bars (8.175) and the floor (8.7) and Allison Rosenhamer placed second for the Eagles on the vault (9.1).
New Ulm seventh grader Kirsten Spaude earned third-places finishes with her vault (9.05) and beam (8.7) routines.
Otterstatter's all-around score of 35.3 was followed by impressive performances by Waseca's Madeline Swain (33.55) and Caleigh Dennis (33.35).
Swain finished second on the beam (8.875) and placed third with her floor routine (8.875).
"This is a meet where we came into it knowing we had to be on to be able to win this one, because Waseca is great competition for us," McFarland said.
New Ulm got off to a good start in the meet with a strong performance on the vault. The team's lowest score on the vault was 8.875, giving the Eagles all five podium positions in the event.
After ninth grader Michaela Howk and Spaude led off the Eagles' turn at the beam by sticking their routines, McFarland sensed that things would turn out very well for her team.
"It's always really nice for beam to start off with two sticks," McFarland said. "It's a really good start, especially coming from the young girls. It's nice to be able to rely on the young team."
In the JV competition, the Eagles defeated the Bluejays 118.25-109.15.
Bergan Forst won the all-around on the JV side with a score of 29.95. Forst also placed first on the bars (8.0) and was second on the vault (8.6).
Gulden won the JV vault event with an 8.85, Howk won on the floor with an 8.2 and New Ulm's Kate Klimek tied for first with Waseca's Michaela Groll on the beam with a 7.2.
With the victory, the Eagles now have a 3-0 record against conference competition, putting them in great position to challenge for the conference title.
"We definitely have potential to take the traveling trophy and be holding the conference title," McFarland said. "We haven't had that since 2008, so I think it's a big deal for these girls to be able to take Waseca and run with that one."
New Ulm's strong results over its recent meets have vaulted the team into the state rankings, with the Eagles holding the No. 13 rank in Class A in the most recent poll.
"It's a good confidence builder for them, because I think that they second-guess themselves sometimes," McFarland said. "After we got past our 133, 134s, [our score] has just been shooting up, and they're confident about what they're doing. They're starting to show off their routines and listening to what I tell them to do, and it's paying off."
New Ulm will compete at the Glencoe-Silver Lake Invitational on Saturday before facing a tough test Jan. 25 on the road against SCC foe Martin County West.
"They make me very proud, and they're doing really, really well," McFarland said of her gymnasts. "A 137 is huge, it's definitely something to be proud of."