Photos by Brett Nachtigall/Fall River County Herald-Star
Members of the 2022-23 Hot Springs Bison gymnastics team which tied for third in the state this year incuded, from left, Ella Bossert, Riley Lockhart, Rose Burchfield, Charli Christianson, Laarke Baand, Carlie DeBoer, Jaylen Nachtigall, Jenna Ellis, Peyton Stewart, Kiera Allen and Head Coach Dana Nachtigall.
Bison tie for 3rd with defending champ Madison; Nachtigall named to second straight All-Tournament Team, places 6th in all-around
By Brett Nachtigall
ABERDEEN – With each of the top-five Class “A” gymnastics teams putting up either season-high or school-record high team scores in Aberdeen last Friday, Feb. 10, the Hot Springs Bison gymnasts elevated their performance as well and set a new school record which tied them with defending champ Madison to place third overall in the state.
Estelline-Hendricks won the team title by scoring 138.917 followed by Chamberlain with 137.117, which are both believed to be school record totals. Hot Springs and Madison were just three-tenths of a point behind in third place with 136.817. Deuel finished in fifth place with 135.617, followed by Britton-Hecla (132.250), Parkston/Ethan/Hanson/Mount Vernon (131.217) and Wagner/Bon Homme (125.267).
“It was an amazing weekend, featuring the top gymnasts in South Dakota and our girls soared,” said Hot Springs head coach Dana Nachtigall, who received an award during this year’s state tournament, for her 25 years of coaching high school gymnastics. “This team had to fight back from injuries, sickness and mental blocks to compete and earned some of their best routines throughout this weekend. They have everything to be proud of.”
Enroute to school’s best team finish since 1976, when Hot Springs was the State Class “A” runner-up to Doland, this year’s Bison gymnasts were led on team day by their all-arounders including sophomore Peyton Stewart, who was fifth overall with a 35.45; senior Jaylen Nachtigall, ninth with a 34.783; and senior Jenna Ellis with a 33.267 which was 15th best.
Hot Springs also got important contributions from junior Carlie DeBoer on vault, floor and bars (combined 25.05) and from junior Kiera Allen on beam (8.267). Also competing for Hot Springs at the state meet was Laerke Baand on floor and vault, as well as Charli Christianson on bars.
“They stood together in that third place spot, which is the highest we have placed in my 25 years of coaching at Hot Springs,” said Coach Nachtigall. “These girls have really stepped up throughout the season and pushed each other to be as great as they have become.”
In addition to the one-day team competition last Friday, the State Tournament also featured a separate one-day individual competition on Saturday, Feb. 11, where Hot Springs had four girls competing.
Jaylen Nachtigall earned her second consecutive Class “A” All-Tournament Team honors as she scored a personal-best 35.067 in all-around to place sixth overall in the state. She was also third on both floor exercise (9.517) and vault (9.133).
Peyton Stewart also earned an individual medal as she placed sixth on uneven bars with a score of 8.45. Her all-around score of 34.433 was 12th best and was followed closely by teammate Jenna Ellis with a 34.05 which was 13th in the state. Ellis also scored a personal-best 9.067 on floor during the individual competition.
“There were a few career-high scores earned this weekend, including Jaylen on floor (9.517), bars (8.433) and all-around (35.067), Jenna on floor (9.067) with her first 9 routine, Peyton in all-around (35.45), and Carlie on floor as well (8.983).”
Coach Nachtigall said having Kiera Allen being able to come back from injury and compete beam on Friday’s team day was great. “And to have Charli Christianson and Laerke Baand getting to experience competing in their first state meet, and Rose Burchfield and Riley Lockhart support the team as alternates was awesome as well.”
“Our seniors again have just been such strong leaders for us,” Coach Nachtigall said. “Ella Bossert keeps us all on task and in line, Jaylen and Jenna are just consistent in every way. These three have made a huge impact on Bison Gymnastics, and for Jaylen to end her career with a second time earning All-Tournament team was wonderful.”