PAINESVILLE — For the first time since 2007, a Medina County team is headed to the state gymnastics meet.
The Medina Bees finished fourth Saturday at the Painesville Riverside District, claiming one of five team berths for the state meet at Hilliard Bradley High.
Wadsworth was the last county squad to qualify for the event, while Medina will make its first trip to suburban Columbus since 2006. The 12-school competition begins Friday at 3 p.m.
“This is everything I could have dreamed of as a senior,” Bees four-year letterwinner Madeline Yurkoski said while smiling broadly. “To come from where we were, not even being able to get out of sectionals my freshman year, is just incredible.
“I had been crying on and off all day because I thought it was the last time we would compete as teammates together. Knowing we’ve got one more meet — and it’s the biggest one possible — makes every one of us so happy.”
Defending state champion Brecksville (147.675), Strongsville (140.45), Hudson (138.325), Medina (137.5) and Magnificat (136.5) advanced out of the Riverside Fieldhouse, while North Royalton (134.125) was sixth. Cloverleaf (131.1) finished 10th.
The Bees’ team consists of seniors Yurkoski and Megan Kerrigan, juniors Gabby Lynskey and McKenna Baluch, and sophomores Samantha Borrelli, Kira Palmer, Natalie Radice and Shannon Moran. All eight gymnasts competed at districts.
“What a ride this has been all season,” said Medina coach Darcy Ranallo, who will also make her state debut. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls to experience this with.”
The Bees’ bid was in jeopardy until their final event at the six-hour meet, but Baluch, Kerrigan and Borrelli responded with nearly flawless routines on the uneven parallel bars. Medina’s score of 34.325 crushed the Bears’ 30.05 and sent North Royalton packing.
Medina Sectional and Northeast Ohio Conference champion Borrelli put an exclamation point on the day by scoring a 9.15, which was the county’s top individual finish with a third.
“So many good things happened today with our team, I am freaking out because I’m so excited,” Borrelli said. “It’s really thrilling to know that all of us were able to put it together when we absolutely needed to.”
Borrelli (all-around, bars, balance beam, floor exercise), Lynskey (beam) and Palmer (floor) also qualified for the state individual meet, which takes place Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
Baluch (bars) and Kerrigan (floor) could join them as they finished 17th individually and are first alternates.
Kerrigan actually tied Magnificat’s Haley Austria for 16th place and in all applicable tiebreakers, forcing her into a tumble-off 15 minutes after the meet’s conclusion. She landed all of her skills, but finished 0.1 shy.
“It was very nerve-racking going back out there for sudden-death, but it also was an awesome experience,” Kerrigan said. “I’ll never forget having every person in the gym cheering for me, and I’ll never forget this entire day.”
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.
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