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Gymnastics team aims for success

Young squad looks to keep improving as they gain experience

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Jan 17, 2021

There are 10 girls on this year’s BEA gymnastics team. They are, front row, left to right: Jazmyn Lunz, Hadleigh Anderson, Annika Ihle, Haley Kalis. Back row: Elizabeth Uecker, Tailor Douglas, Addison Armstrong, Madison Dulac, Lauren Survis, Adrianna Reddick.

The 2021 Blue Earth Area gymnastics team is busy preparing for the upcoming season and head coach Rachel Cole says it is a challenge getting the girls ready for the first competition.

“The girls have had a longer-than-normal layoff between the end of fall sports and the beginning of winter sports,” Cole says. “It is a little bit more of a challenge to get the girls back in competition shape. The girls started off their first few days of practice being a little sore but everyone was feeling better by the end of the week.”

It will be a shorter season than normal but the team will still have the same number of competitions they usually do.

“We would normally have one month of practice before our first meet,” Cole explains. “This year we have three weeks of practice before our first competition. It just condenses everything.”

There are no seniors on this year’s 10-member squad and Jazmyn Lunz is the lone returning junior. Hayley Kalis and Adrianna Reddick are the two sophomores on the team. There are four girls on the team from the freshman class. They are Addison Armstrong, Maddie Dulac, Lauren Survis and Lizzy Uecker. Tailor Douglas is the only eighth grader while Annika Ihle and Hadleigh Anderson join the team as seventh graders.

Both Kalis and Armstrong are two-time Big South Conference All-Conference selections and will strive to achieve that honor again this season.

“We only have the 10 girls out but each one of them is able to compete in every event,” Cole comments. “This gives us some good flexibility in setting our lineup.

Because of COVID-19 and the smaller size of the facility used for their home meets, the number of spectators who may attend BEA’s home meets will be limited.

“Each member of the Buccaneer squad will be given two tickets or passes but we will not be able to allow visitors to attend because of the smaller size of the 1928 gym,” activities director Rob Norman explains. “Other schools are running into similar situations and are unable to allow visitors to attend some events.”

Cole says it is just the way it has to be.

“It will be different. Many of these girls thrive on not only the cheering of the fans but also the high fives and hugs they would normally receive from their teammates,” Cole notes. “COVID will not make that possible.”

The gymnasts do not have to wear masks but the coaches will be masked up.

“What they do have to do is wash and disinfect their hands a lot,” Cole says. “It is hard to disinfect the equipment because the chemicals can damage the materials which cover the gymnastics equipment.”

Cole has helped coach gymnastics for five years and is in her fourth year as the head coach. LaNay Hervey serves as Cole’s assistant.

Cole talks about some of the other challenges facing this year’s team.

“With a smaller squad we need to try and avoid injury,” Cole remarks. “We need to keep everybody healthy and also try and avoid COVID.”

Currently, the team is scheduled to open the season with four consecutive home meets beginning on Jan. 21, when St. Peter comes to town.

“I look for Martin County Area (Fairmont and Martin County West) and New Ulm to be the favorites,” Cole says. “We are anticipating to be just as good or better than last year. Our goal is to score in the 125-130 range. Topping 130 is definitely possible.”

The schedule calls for the Buccaneers to have two meets each against Martin County Area, New Ulm, St. James, St. Peter and Waseca for a total of 10 competitions.

“There is a Big South Crossover meet scheduled for the end to the season between the top team from both the East and West Divisions of the conference,” Cole says. “As of right now there is not a Minnesota State Gymnastics Tournament scheduled.