The Farmington Tigers gymnastics team competed at their Section 1AA meet on Friday, Feb. 16, and senior Lauren Slayton qualified for state by taking third in the all-around. This will be Slayton's third time qualifying for the state meet after she qualified on floor and vault last season, where she took ninth with her floor routine. As a team, Farmington finished fourth with a score of 143.05, their highest this season. They were a little over two points behind Northfield who took third. Owatonna was Section 1AA champs and Rosemount finished second.
Head coach Amanda Lund said that her team easily had their best performance of the season at sections.
"We scored a season-high team score and we connected in a lot of spots where we haven't really connected all season," she said. "Not just one or two girls hitting the marks, but really our full lineup hitting the marks, especially on floor, we had a phenomenal floor day, and bars. It was the highlight of the season, we peaked at the right time."
Lund was nothing but complimentary about one of her few seniors on the team in Slayton.
"I think the biggest thing with Lauren is that she is hands-down one of the most coachable athletes I've ever worked with," she said. "She puts in more time and energy than anyone in the gym. She wants to get better and she's always seeking for more knowledge and more feedback on how she can get better."
Having made the state tournament for the third time, Lund said the area Slayton has most improved this season is in her mental approach.
"I think the biggest change this year compared to other years is that she is more mentally strong than she has ever been," she said. "There's always frustrations and mental blocks in gymnastics, but her ability to work through those in a healthy way has excelled greatly. She is stronger in that area than she has ever been."
Slayton received honors in just about every event. She finished third in the all-around with a score of 37.725 and was named to the all-section team for the all-around. She also took third on the vault with a 9.425, was second on the uneven bars (9.475), finished fifth on the balance beam with a score of 9.3 and took fourth on the floor with a 9.525.
Farmington as a team received a gold medal for academics with a 3.839 team GPA. Sophomore Madison Jones placed 10th on the vault with a score of 9.3 and was named to the vault's all-section team. Fellow sophomore Madeline Hins took eighth in the floor exercise with a score of 9.325, while freshman Kaley Daniels was named to the event's all-section team.
Another highlight was a few personal bests on floor by some of the gymnasts.
"We had two girls on floor who had never broken into the 9.0 realm ever in high school gymnastics and they did at that meet," she said. "Bailey McCuddin (freshman) and Sarah McCormick (freshman) both got over a 9.0 and that was super cool to see, super deserving."