Gymnasts improved all season

Kay Netteberg's first meet as head coach of the Park Rapids-Nevis gymnastics team didn't go according to plan. With only four letterwinners returning, Netteberg needed her veteran gymnasts to stay healthy the entire season and provide the leaders...

Kay Netteberg's first meet as head coach of the Park Rapids-Nevis gymnastics team didn't go according to plan.

With only four letterwinners returning, Netteberg needed her veteran gymnasts to stay healthy the entire season and provide the leadership for a young team. Being counted to provide that leadership were the four gymnasts who competed at last year's Section 8A meet: seniors Katie Damlo and Katie Bown, sophomore Brenna Steevens and eighth-grader Kyja Penning.

In that first meet, Steevens suffered a season-ending knee injury. That proved costly as Grand Rapids posted a 123.10 to 92.75 victory. That injury also left the Panthers without one of their top performers in vault, on uneven parallel bars and on balance beam.

With one of their veteran gymnasts sidelined, Netteberg looked for some first-year varsity gymnasts to fill that void. Freshmen Micah Richards and Megan Law-rence and seventh-grader Annessa Feder stepped up and filled in for Steevens as the Panthers steadily improved all season.

Park Rapids improved its team score in its next five appearances. The Panthers lost their first five dual meets, but showed improvement in a 127.15 to 102.75 loss to Bemidji, a 145.20 to 105.95 loss to Perham, a 138.10 to 107.10 loss to Detroit Lakes and a 112.20 to 111.80 loss to Fergus Falls. Park Rapids then scored 116.70 points to place seventh at the eight-team Little Falls Invitational. Becker won that meet with a 141.50.


After tallying 116.50 points to place sixth at the seven-team Park Rapids Invitational (which Alex-andria won with a 133.55), and dropping a 114.75 to 113.50 dual to Wadena-Deer Creek, the Panthers posted their first win of the season by defeating Moorhead's JV squad 112.15 to 96.75.

The Panthers hit a season high in a 139.75 to 118.70 loss to Detroit Lakes before ending the season with losses to Long Prairie-Grey Eagle (122.25 to 116.20) and Bemidji (135.45 to 116.75).

Park Rapids then took third at the five-team Mid-State Confer-ence meet with a 118.25 and followed with a 118.025 for sixth place at the seven-team Section 8A meet. Perham won both titles, compiling 151.025 points at the conference meet and repeating as section champs with a 152.225. Perham went on to win its third straight state Class A title.

"I thought the season went very well," said Netteberg. "I was very impressed with how we ended up. After starting the season with a 92.75, we had nowhere to go but up. The girls did a fabulous job."

Leading the Panthers this season were the two seniors.

Damlo, who was the only returning all-around performer from last season, led the Panthers in all four events and all-around this season. Damlo had the team's highest average on bars (8.24), in vault (8.24), in floor exercise (8.20) and on beam (7.10) and tallied the team's highest scores in vault (8.60), on bars (8.55) and in floor (8.525) and had the second-highest score on beam (8.00). Damlo also led the team with a 31.85 average in all-around in 14 meets with a high of 33.30.

Damlo, who earned all-conference honors, capped off her senior season by placing ninth in all-around, 10th on bars, 13th on beam, 14th in floor and 19th in vault at the section meet. Damlo received the team's Most Valuable Gymnast award.

Bown competed in all-around in six meets this season, averaging a 26.10 with a high of 28.95. Bown earned all-conference honorable mention honors with averages of 7.82 in vault, 7.69 on bars, 5.48 in floor and 5.30 on beam. Bown had season highs of 8.20 in vault, 8.25 on bars, 7.20 on beam and 6.60 in floor.


Bown, who competed on bars at last year's section meet, missed the section meet after being injured during warm ups. Bown was named the team's Most Dedicated Gymanst.

Penning, who was a section competitor on beam and in floor last season, also was an all-conference honorable mention gymnast. Penning had the team's top score on beam with an 8.35 and finished second on the team in all-around average (27.99), on beam (6.88) and in floor (7.51). Penning had season highs of 30.55 in all-around, 7.10 on bars (with an average of 5.10), 7.975 in floor and 7.95 in vault (with an average of 7.49).

Penning competed in all-around in all 14 meets. At the section meet, Penning placed 16th in all-around, 19th in floor, 20th on bars, 22nd on beam and 26th in vault.

Richards was named the team's Rookie of the Year and received the team's Best Attitude award after capping the season by placing 15th in all-around, 14th on beam, 20th in floor, 22nd on bars and 22nd in vault in her section debut. Richards had season highs of 8.25 in vault, 7.90 in floor, 7.50 on beam and 6.80 on bars with averages of 7.77 in vault, 7.11 in floor, 6.10 on beam and 5.10 on bars. Richards competed in all-around in 11 meets with an average of 26.95 and a high of 30.30.

Lawrence was a section competitor in floor (placing 27th), on bars (placing 28th) and on beam (placing 31st). Lawrence finished the season with averages of 6.31 in vault (with a high of 7.25), 5.89 in floor (with a high of 7.20), 5.52 on beam (with a high of 6.65) and 4.38 on bars (with a high of 5.95). Lawrence received the team's Most Spirited award.

Feder rounded out the Panthers' section squad and placed 29th on beam and 31st in floor. Feder had highs of 7.70 in vault (with an average of 7.32), 6.80 in floor (with an average of 5.93), 5.90 on beam (with an average of 5.25) and 4.30 on bars (with an average of 3.51).

Steevens received scores of 7.55 in vault and 5.20 on bars in her only varsity meet this season.

Other varsity awards went to Richards (Most Improved on bars), Feder (Most Improved in vault), Lawrence (Most Improved on beam) and Penning (Most Improved in floor).


Also receiving participation certificates this season were sophomore Kaitlyn Steffen; freshmen Cassie Bethel and Dena Johanning; eighth-graders Kirsten Erickson, Jessica McGowan and Amber McGowan; and seventh-graders Regina Gartner and Leah Meinert.

Receiving junior varsity awards were Jessica McGowan (Most Improved on bars), Johanning (Most Valuable, Most Improved in vault, Best Attitude), Steffen (Most Improved in vault and beam), Meinert (Most Improved in floor, Most Dedicated and Most Spirited), and Amber McGowan (Best Attitude).

"We had a lot of young girls step up this year," said Netteberg. "The girls worked very hard and improved all season. It was a fun season and I think the girls had a good time."

Looking ahead to next year, the Panthers will feature another young squad and two key gymnasts to replace. However, Netteberg is counting on her returning gymnasts to pick up where they left off this year.

"We're going to miss the Katies. They've been around a long time and they're going to leave some big spots to fill," said Netteberg. "We're going to be hard-pressed to fill those spots, but we're going to have a pretty strong unit coming back. We're going to be extremely young, but hopefully we'll continue to improve and get better."

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