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Gymnasts not lacking in experience

By Staff | Nov 29, 2008

The 2008-09 Bucs gymnastics team poses for a picture. Front row, left to right; Cassie Thompson, Marissia Hagedorn and LaNay Walker. Middle row, left to right; Bridget Zierke, Sam Hougen, Blaire Zierke, Julia Meyer, MacKenzie Determan and Lauren Thompson. Back row, left to right; Maija Berndt, Emily Clement and Corin Sohn.

If there is one thing the Blue Earth Area girls gymnastics team has, it is experience.

“We didn’t have any seniors on the team last year, so we didn’t lose anyone to graduation,” Bucs Co-Head Coach Sandy Oswald says. “In fact, we gained a team member.”

Bridget Zierke took the year off last season, but she is back this year, Oswald says. She is the only senior on the team.

There is also only one junior on the squad – Emily Clement.

Zierke will be good on the vault and beam, while Clement will be competing on the beam, Oswald says.

Most of the team members are sophomores. Blaire Zierke and Julia Meyer – along with eighth grader Cassie Thompson – will be the gymnasts competing in the all-around.

LaNay Walker and Corin Sohn will be on bars, Sam Hougen on vault, Lauren Thompson on vault and floor, and Maija Berndt on floor exercise for the Bucs.

Ninth grader Marissia Hagedorn and eighth grader Christina Anderson will fill in for all-around competition, Oswald says.

Most of the girls competed on the varsity level last year, so there is no lack of experience.

“They have come along nicely in the first week of practice,” Oswald says. “They have their heads on straight.”

The coach thinks the first meet won’t be as nerve-racking as usual, because of the experience level.

“They are getting rid of some of the nerves, and acting like true varsity competitors,” Oswald explains. “Not like young seventh and eighth graders having to compete at varsity level and being nervous about it.”

The coach says the team is really focused on hitting and staying at the 130 mark in scoring this year.

“We also want to place higher in the conference,” she says. The team was third last year. Oswald says New Ulm will be the conference favorite.

“We are really looking at maybe pushing someone into going to state,” she adds. “Although the section is really tough, I think we have a chance.”

The team gets rolling with their first meet in Worthing-ton on Dec. 9. The original schedule had the first meet set for Dec. 4, but it has since been postponed until Feb. 3.

Oswald is co-coaching this year with her daughter, Marissa.

“It works out better to be co-coaches, since we both lead the team at practices and at meets,” she says.

The future looks bright for the team, both for this season and the next few. Because they are so young, yet have competed a lot, they should do well next year as well.

“Plus we have a nice group of six seventh graders out this year, for the first time,” Oswald says. “That is always nice to have.”