East Ridge started its first state meet appearance in the least enviable position.

The Raptors started the state meet on the beam.

“(On) beam you get really nervous,” Raptors junior Megan Trollen said. “Beam is probably not the best to start on. But I think we did really well considering that beam is really nerve-wracking. We got the nerves out of us and did the best we can.”

Those nerves were evident East Ridge in its first rotation as the Raptors posted a 35.225 -- the second-lowest beam score by any of the eight teams.

Still, the youthful Raptors recovered from there, posting solid scores on each of their final three events en route to a team score of 146.600 -- good for a fourth-place state finish at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavillion Feb. 20.

The Raptors posted the meet’s third highest floor score with a 37.550 and the third highest vault score with a 37.325.

“It was a really great experience for us to be here as a team and be competing together,” East Ridge junior Karina Joiner said. “We obviously had a few shaky things here and there, but I think we really redeemed ourselves on a lot of events and we really pulled together as a team today.”

Reaching the team state meet was the Raptors primary goal from the season’s outset -- something they achieved by winning the Section 3AA meet with a score of 148.525.

“That was our biggest goal. Then getting here and coming out here, we just had fun,” Trollen said. “We’ve worked so hard, and I think having fun was the most important thing and we definitely had fun as a team together.”

The experience was valuable for an East Ridge team getting its first taste of the big stage.

“They got to experience it, they got to experience the jitters, they got to experience everything about it,” first-year East Ridge coach Chris Muras said.

It’s an East Ridge team that features just one senior and is made up of a junior-heavy core that seems set on returning to state again one year from now to make a little more noise.

Muras said with a little more work on beam and a few more releases on bars, paired with this experience, the Raptors should be better suited for state the next time around.

For an East Ridge team decked out with young talent and an up-and-coming coach, this was only the beginning.

“If we come back next year -- hopefully we come back next year -- it won’t be as new and we’ll be a little more comfortable with it,” Joiner said. “Hopefully we’ll do a little better.”