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Buccaneers build a team of young gymnasts

By Staff | Nov 30, 2014

The composition of the 2014-2015 Blue Earth Area Gymnastics team is very similar to that of last year’s unusual structure.

Last year, the team contained only three athletes who were in 10th grade or higher. This year, there are only four athletes who are in 10th grade or higher.

However, although a majority of the team members are quite new to the sport, co-head coach Merissa Lore is confident that the girls will have a successful year.

“The girls just need to build some confidence, get past the jitters of the first few meets,”?Lore says. “They need to gain some experience, but I?think all of the girls will really improve this year.”

Already, only 10 official days into practice, Lore has noticed that the returning athletes have picked up from where they left off last year.

“They just came in and picked up from where they left off,”?Lore adds. “That is really hard to do, especially in gymnastics and especially if they didn’t practice during the off-season. But I think we could use that to our advantage.”

Like all of the other sports teams at BEA, gymnastics is now a part of the Big South Conference rather than the South Central Conference.

According to Lore, the switch may impact the team some, but not enough to change the team’s strategy.

The main difference in the swap between conferences is that the girls will no longer receive individual medals at the dual meets.

In the past, points were awarded to the gymnasts who placed in the top slots those in first place received five points, second place received four points, and so on. By the end, the gymnasts with the most points would receive medals.

But this year, because the BSC is much larger and contains more gymnasts than the SCC, those medals are no longer awarded to the winners.

“We won’t see a lot of change, it’s mostly just that there are more girls, more competition and less medals,” Lore notes.

As part of the BSC, the girls will also face new competition. The BEA gymnasts will now face Mankato East, Mankato West, Redwood Valley, Pipestone Area and Marshall Senior high schools in addition to their old rivalries.

“There are a lot of teams in the conference that are really good they have some really strong competitors,” Lore explains. “But Jackson County Central, Martin County Area and Waseca always stand out, especially Waseca.”

The girls may not be awarded as many medals as last year due to an increased pool of participants, but to Lore, the points do not matter as much as some of the more personal qualities.

“I don’t focus on the scores, I focus on the girls’ attitudes, their performance and how well they are progressing and getting along with each other,”?she says. “The girls still set goals for themselves, but there’s more than just numerical goals and I pay more attention to the quality of those goals.”

The BEA gymnasts began practice Nov. 10 in the Winnebago Elementary School gym. However, the athletes spent the first week merely setting up the equipment; therefore, practice officially began Friday, Nov. 14.

Lore hopes that losing a full week of practice does not negatively impact the team, specifically the younger gymnasts and the newcomers.

“Most of the girls have a really positive attitude when they come to practice and that is so important,” Lore says. “I just want them to do their best and I think we’ll have a good year.”

The BEA Gymnastics team will compete in their first meet of the season Monday, Dec. 1 in Worthington.