Last year's performance at the Section 8-2A gymnastics meet motivated Kara Rutman.
The then Brainerd High School junior fell off the uneven parallel bars and missed an opportunity to qualify for state as an individual.
"Kara came back this year with more determination than ever," Warriors coach Dave Maras said. "Throughout the course of this season there was maybe only one time she missed her routine because her grip slipped or something like that. It wasn't because she missed a trick or because she didn't do one. It was something out of her control.
"Kara had a very consistent year this year. She was kind of stuck on 8.9 early. As she got stronger her giant swings got better and more consistent, and her scores went up."
Rutman scored a 9.15 on bars at Saturday's section meet to finish second and advance to state.
"I actually didn't expect to finish second but I hadn't been watching the scores," Rutman said. "Mr. Maras told me not to watch the scores during the day. I was the last competitor on bars, so I didn't know what numbers I had to have to go to state at that point.
"I thought it would be close, whether or not I could make the state cut, and I was surprised."
Rutman's runner-up finish didn't surprise Maras.
"We knew she needed at least a 9.05 or 9.1 to qualify," he said. "We knew she could do that because kids in front of her went 8.8, 8.9. We knew if she just hit her routine she had a good shot, and she did just that."
Nailing routines throughout the season enabled Rutman to earn all-state honors (minimum 9.2 average). In her top six meets she averaged 9.279.
"I thought I would be close," Rutman said of earning all-state honors. "It's really neat to get that because it's kind of a big accomplishment. I've always been right there."
Event: Uneven parallel bars, vault, balance beam
Weight: 125 pounds
Other sports: Swimming and diving, golf
Memorable sports achievement: Qualifying for state meet three times with gymnastics team, qualifying this season as an individual
Favorite subject: Health
Favorite food: Buttered noodles
Favorite TV show: "The OC"
Hobbies: Gymnastics, wakeboarding
Future plans: Attend cosmetology school at Fargo, N.D., hopes to coach gymnastics
Athlete she admires: Her brother, Brady
Parents: Arnie and Peggy Rutman
Rutman will make her fourth trip to the state meet Saturday night. As an eighth-grader, freshman and sophomore she was a member of Warrior teams that qualified for state at Wilkins Auditorium at the RiverCentre in St. Paul.
"Mentally, I think it helps you prepare," Rutman said of competing at Wilkins Auditorium before. "You know what to do for the weekend. I will be competing with girls from (throughout the state), not from my team, so that will be something new. I'm looking forward to it but it will be something different."
"I'm just going down there to do my best. Anything can happen on any given day. Gymnastics is one of those sports where if someone has not so good of a day the next person, or the underdog, can come up and be in the running."
Other notable efforts:
Jacob Ray, floor hockey, had a goal and 4 assists against Humboldt.
Kayla Huether, girls basketball, had 21 points against Rocori.
Justin Tyner, Nordic skiing, finished sixth in freestyle at the state meet to earn all-state honors.
Landon Stanfield, boys' basketball, had 26 points against Grand Rapids.
Mike Bialka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.