Gymnasts focusing on improvement
Last season, the Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis gymnastics team went 2-8 in dual meets, finished third at the Mid-State Conference meet and placed fifth at the Section 8A meet.
Duplicating those results would be considered a successful season for the Panthers this winter.
The Panthers surpassed 120 points only once last season and ended with an average team score of 116.19. Park Rapids scored 117.95 points at the conference meet and ended the year with a 119.30 at the section meet.
Perham repeated as conference champs with a 152.175, won the section title with a 151.65 and went on to capture its seventh state Class A title in a row. Detroit Lakes, which ended the season ranked No. 2 in the state behind Perham, finished second at both the conference and section meets.
In addition to facing those two state powers, the Panthers have to replace two of their top performers with the graduation of Kyja Penning and Kirsten Erickson. Penning was the team's top all-around performer last season with a 32.54 all-around average while Erickson was a consistent performer in floor exercise and on balance beam.
On the positive side, the Panthers return eight gymnasts who competed on varsity last season. That group features juniors Emily Klingenberg and Jessica Petrie; sophomore Jessica Andersen; freshmen Cassie Baxter, Ellen Hoffman, Kayla Johnk and Samantha Harshman; and eighth grader Lauren Rossman.
Andersen had the Panthers' second-highest all-around average at 29.52, which included a high of 32.25. In 13 meets, Andersen had averages of 8.18 in vault (with a high of 8.60), 7.33 on beam (with a high of 7.90), 7.06 in floor (with a high of 8.00) and 6.95 on uneven parallel bars (with a high of 8.25). At the section meet, Andersen finished 17th in vault with an 8.40, 22nd on beam with a 7.275, 26th on bars with a 6.575, 27th in floor with a 7.30 and 20th in all-around with a 29.55. Andersen also was an all-conference honorable mention gymnast.
Klingenberg was the Panthers' other all-around performer last season, finishing with a high of 31.50 and an average of 28.59 in 10 meets. Klingenberg had averages of 7.99 in vault (with a high of 8.30), 7.19 on beam (with a high of 8.30), 6.76 in floor (with a high of 7.65) and 6.65 on bars (with a high of 7.70). At the section meet, Klingenberg placed 21st in vault with an 8.30, 29th on beam with a 6.80, 29th in floor with a 7.15, 30th on bars with a 6.00 and 25th in all-around with a 28.25. Klingenberg also was an all-conference honorable mention gymnast.
Baxter was a varsity all-around competitor in two meets and had a season high of 26.15. In 13 varsity meets, Baxter compiled averages of 7.97 in vault (with a high of 8.25), 6.50 on bars (with a high of 7.20), 5.84 in floor (with a high of 6.70) and 4.98 on beam (with a high of 5.50). At the section meet, Baxter finished 25th on bars with a 6.625 and 29th in vault with a 7.90.
Hoffman competed in four varsity meets in vault with an average of 6.88 and a high of 8.10 and three meets in floor with an average of 6.88 and a high of 7.10. Hoffman competed in both events at the section meet, receiving an 8.05 in vault for 27th place and a 6.75 in floor for 33rd place. Hoffman suffered a broken bone in her foot during practice and could miss the entire season.
Johnk was a varsity competitor in three events, scoring in vault eight times, on bars five times and in floor four times. Johnk compiled a 7.65 average in vault with a high of 7.95, a 6.08 average in floor with a high of 6.60 and a 3.65 average on bars with a high of 4.05.
Rossman competed on beam in 10 meets and ended the season by placing 30th at the section meet with a 6.50. Rossman had a 6.24 average in that event with a high of 6.95.
Petrie had scores of 7.90 and 6.90 in vault, 4.10 in floor and 4.70 on bars in her three varsity appearances while Harshman had scores of 7.85, 7.45 twice and 7.375 in her four varsity appearances in vault.
Rounding out the varsity and junior varsity rosters will be juniors Abbie Grossman, Isis Tovar and Kaity Darchuk; sophomores Abby Veit, Brittany Carnell, Jesyka Stevens, Jordan Bynum and Tiffeny Hansen; freshmen Kaitlyn Westphal, Katy Spears, Savannah Gatewood and Taylor Drury; eighth graders Amy Klein, Danielle Carnell, Kendra Andersen, Kylee Roy, Lindsey Girtz, Nicole Eischens and Sarena Kinkel; and seventh graders Jordan Hochstatter, Kayla Anderson, Sarah Harshman and Talya Smith.
"We should have a season pretty close to last year," said Park Rapids head coach Wendi Hartig, who will be assisted by Micah Yliniemi. "We're looking for improvement during the season. I think we'll do well."