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Gymnasts — another title?

By Staff | Nov 30, 2009

The Buccaneer gymnastics team only lost one senior to graduation from last year’s group – Bridget Zierke.

That means co-coaches Sandy and Marissa Oswald have a returning squad which includes two state meet entrants, and an experienced team that took their first-ever South Central Conference championship last year.

That is a lot to live up to, Sandy Oswald says.

“I don’t know if we can repeat as conference champs, but that is surely one of our goals,” Oswald says.

The problem, she says, is that while Blue Earth Area did not lose many gymnasts to graduation, neither did anyone else in the conference. There are a lot of talented gymnasts out there, she says.

Plus, two teams gained some huge advantages by combining with other teams.

SCC member Fairmont is pairing with Martin County West in gymnastics this season, Oswald explains. They will compete as the MCW Mavericks, but since Fairmont is an SCC member, now MCW will be part of the conference.

“I was not happy about it,” Oswald says. “MCW has a strong program and they will be tough. They could be on their own.”

On the other side of the conference, New Richland-Ellendale-Geneva-Hartland is going to join with Waseca.

“They will compete as the Bluejays in gymnastics,” Oswald says. “Waseca was already pretty strong, too, so it will be tough to compete with them this year.”

However, with an experienced squad, Oswald thinks the Bucs should be able to compete with anyone in the conference.

“New Ulm and Waseca should be strong again, but I would count us right up there with them,” she says. St. James and St. Peter always have good teams also, she noted.

The Buccaneer team has 23 girls out this season, which Oswald calls about average for the past few years.

They will be led by juniors Blaire Zierke and Julia Meyer, the two who qualified for the State Meet last season.

The Bucs have only one senior out this year – Emily Clement. She is one of the team’s captains, along with Zierke and Lauren Thompson.

“All three are good gymnasts and great team leaders,” the BEA mentor says.

Two strong competitors for the Buccaneers will be sophomore Marissia Hage-dorn and freshman Cassie Thompson.

“These girls are very strong already in several events — in good competitive form,” the Bucs coach says. “We have an excellent core group to anchor the team.”

Oswald also praised LaNay Walker on parallel bars and Sam Hougen on vault.

“They are doing great right from when practice first started,” Oswald says. “It will help us be very competitive right from the start.”

So will having freshman Christina Anderson back. She was hurt on the bars last year, dislocating her shoulder and missing a lot of the season.

“We also have a nice group of seventh and eighth graders out this year, so our future looks good,” she sums up.

The Buccaneers season opens with Worthington, at home, on Dec. 8.

They will follow that with the BEA Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 12. Their only other meet before the Christmas break is a trip to Waseca on Dec. 17

“All of our home meets are still held at the gym at the Winnebago Elemen-tary,” Oswald says. “We appreciate all the great fan support we get from people in the BEA area.”