One of three seniors who helped the Stillwater synchronized swimming team win their first state championship since 2003, Rubie Ballantyne has been named the MVP for ponies.
Ballantyne, who joined Kya Hodgdon and Grace Sneden as captains, was joined by teammates Luci Miller, Paige Schmit and Julianna Silva to take top honors at all conferences. Bella Chau, Annie Gritters, Hailey Schmit and Sneden were all conference selections with honorable mention.
After having had a promising 2020 season wiped out by COVID-19, the ponies finished this season with a double-meet record of 6-0 to win the East Metro conference crown, then edged out Forest Lake 193-154 to win the section title is.
Stillwater, who won the short, long and long team events in the state competition, edged runner-up Wayzata 154-84 to win the program’s 19th state championship overall. Stillwater’s victory ended a streak of 13 consecutive state titles for the Trojans. The ponies, who have compiled a double-competition record of 213-3-1 since 1989, have never finished below second in their 47-year state competition history.
Paige Schmit, Hailey Schmit and Silva received all-state honors for Stillwater. Ballantyne also received a Senior All-Academic Award in the State.
The ponies finished first in 8 of the state’s 12 divisions and placed their 20 routines in the top seven in each category, which is the threshold for scoring points.
In addition to winning the short, long and extended team divisions, Stillwater won first place from Hailey Schmit (short solo), Elaina Lokken and Hannah Wiese (short duo), Ballantyne and Paige Schmit (long duo), Lokken, Hailey Schmit and Wiese (short trio), and Sophia Chau, Annie Gritters and Paige Schmit (long trio).
Pony trainer Kathy Henderson received the National Coach of the Year award.
The team also received a Silver Academic Award from the Minnesota State Coaches Association, a designation that requires a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
Also announced at the team’s playoff banquet, Bella Chau, Leigha Kraft and Luci Miller will be next year’s team captains.
All lectures: Rubie Ballantyne, Luci Miller, Paige Schmit and Julianna Silva; Honorable mention from the entire conference: Bella Chau, Annie Gritters, Hailey Schmit and Grace Sneden; All States: Paige Schmit, Hailey Schmit and Julianna Silva; Senior All-Academic Award: Rubie Ballantyne; State Coach of the Year: Kathy Henderson; Outstanding Athlete: Rubie Ballantyne; Captains Elect: Bella Chau, Leigha Kraft and Luci Miller.