Panthers battled through injuries
Considering injuries kept the Park Rapids gymnastics team from fielding its best lineup most of the season, the Panthers scored consistently all season.
Injuries resulted in the Panthers missing key gymnasts in eight of the 13 meets. Those injuries resulted in Park Rapids surpassing 120 points only once.
On the positive side, those injuries enabled some younger gymnasts to compete at the varsity level. By the end of the season, a healthy lineup consistently scored at least 116 points as the Panthers ended the season with a 2-8 record in dual meets, a third-place finish at the Mid-State Conference meet and a fifth-place showing at the Section 8A meet.
Park Rapids opened the season with a 127.35 to 115.25 loss to Bemidji, a 145.975 to 112.80 loss to Detroit Lakes, and a 129.05 to 110.40 loss to Little Falls.
At the Park Rapids Invitational, the Panthers finished fourth out of five teams with 117.75 points. Bemidji took first with a 133.70.
After dropping a 151.55 to 108.50 dual to Perham, the Panthers defeated Frazee 119.025 to 92.50 at the Moorhead Invitational.
Fergus Falls defeated the Panthers 133.475 to 114.50 in a dual meet and the Panthers hit their high mark of the season to defeat Frazee again by a 122.85 to 109.90 margin.
Long Prairie-Grey Eagle edged the Panthers 118.625 to 116.70 and Bemidji posted a 131.50 to 118.10 win in a pair of dual meets.
At the Mid-State Conference meet, the Panthers compiled 117.95 points to finish behind Perham's 152.175 and Detroit Lakes' 149.325 in this four-team meet. Frazee was fourth with a 111.95.
Park Rapids ended the regular season with a 145.50 to 117.40 loss to Detroit Lakes before placing fifth at the seven-team Section 8A meet with a 119.30. Perham won its eighth consecutive section title with a 151.60. Detroit Lakes was second with a 148.575. Fergus Falls (132.875) and Little Falls (132.525) followed while Long Prairie-Grey Eagle (115.325) and Frazee (109.625) finished sixth and seventh.
Perham, the top-rated Class A team in the state, went on to win its seventh state title in a row while Detroit Lakes ended the season ranked No. 2 in the state Class A ranks.
For the season, the Panthers had a team average of 116.19 with averages of 32.29 in vault, 28.66 on balance beam, 28.02 in floor exercise and 27.22 on bars. Park Rapids' high marks in each event were 33.75 in vault, 31.15 on beam, 30.60 in floor and 29.40 on bars.
Leading the Panthers this season were seniors Kyja Penning and Kirsten Erickson; sophomore Emily Klingenberg; freshmen Jessica Andersen and Katherine Erickson; eighth graders Cassie Baxter, Ellen Hoffman and Kayla Johnk; and seventh grader Lauren Rossman.
Penning returned as the team's top all-around performer and led the team with a 32.54 all-around average with a high of 33.45. Penning had the Panthers' top averages in all four events, compiling an 8.48 average in vault, an 8.18 average in floor, a 7.66 average on beam and a 7.65 average on bars. Penning's high marks this season were 8.65 in vault, 8.65 on beam, 8.575 in floor and 8.35 on bars.
Penning, who didn't compete in all-around in five meets because of an ankle injury, earned all-conference honors and capped off her career by placing 14th in vault, 15th on bars, 15th in floor, 23rd on beam and 14th in all-around at the section meet.
Andersen had the Panthers' second-highest all-around average of 29.52 with a high of 32.25. Andersen was the only Park Rapids gymnasts to compete in all-around in all 13 meets and finished with averages of 8.18 in vault, 7.33 on beam, 7.06 in floor and 6.95 on bars. Andersen's high marks this season were 8.60 in vault, 8.25 on bars, 8.00 in floor and 7.90 on beam. Andersen was an all-conference honorable mention selection and ended the season by placing 17th in vault, 22nd on beam, 26th on bars, 27th in floor and 20th in all-around at the section meet.
Klingenberg was the Panthers' other all-around performer, finishing with a 28.59 average and a high of 31.50. Klingenberg, who didn't compete in all-around in three meets because of an injury, had averages of 7.99 in vault, 7.19 on beam, 6.76 in floor and 6.65 on bars with highs of 8.30 in vault, 8.30 on beam, 7.70 on bars and 7.65 in floor. Klingenberg earned all-conference honors and ended the season by placing 21st in vault, 29th on beam, 29th in floor, 30th on bars and 25th in all-around at the section meet.
Kirsten Erickson earned all-conference honorable mention honors after compiling a 6.58 average on beam and 6.52 average in floor. Erickson had high marks of 7.85 on beam and 7.30 in floor and placed 28th in floor at the section meet.
Katherine Erickson finished the season with a 6.83 average on beam (with a high of 7.55) and a 4.29 average on bars (with a high of 4.80). Erickson also had a 5.85 in her only varsity floor routine. Erickson competed at the section meet on beam (placing 24th) and on bars (placing 33rd).
Baxter competed in all-around in two meets, finishing with a 24.93 average and a high of 26.15. Baxter had 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 placed 29th in vault and 25th on bars.
Hoffman had a 7.99 average in vault with a high of 8.10 in four meets and a 6.88 average in floor with a high of 7.10 in three meets. Hoffman also received a 4.00 in her only varsity appearance on bars. Hoffman competed at the section meet in vault (placing 27th) and floor (placing 33rd).
Johnk was a varsity competitor in vault in eight meets, finishing with a 7.65 average with a high of 7.95. Johnk also competed on bars in five meets, finishing with a 3.65 average and a high of 4.05, and in floor in four meets, tallying a 6.08 average with a high of 6.60.
Rossman rounded out the Panthers' section team on beam by placing 30th. In 10 varsity meets, Rossman had a 6.24 average on beam with a high of 6.95.
Sophomore Jessie Petrie (7.40 average in two meets in vault and a 4.10 in one meet in floor), freshman Tiffeny Hansen (2.38 average in two meets on bars) and eighth grader Samantha Harshman (7.53 average with a high of 7.85 in four meets in vault) also saw some varsity action this season.