Gymnastics team prepares for upcoming season

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Photo by Anna Benson

The 2020-2021 gymnastics team with their sections trophy. After winning sections, they competed in the state meet.

Gabrielle Knowlan, Photographer and Copy Editor

“Our biggest goal this year is to win sections and hopefully win state as well,” Dusty Dennis, head gymnastics coach, said. After placing 5th at state last year, the gymnastics team has been working hard to prepare for the upcoming season. With many strong returning athletes, the team has their mind set on first this year and is setting goals for the team to get there.

Due to the MSHSL rules, the coaches have limited time to work with athletes to prepare for the season. But, every girl on the team has been training somewhere else on their own to make sure that they are ready for competition season. The girls trained with high school coaches from June 1-July 31 and after that, contact was not allowed. Many girls trained at the East Ridge High School gymnastics facility, or a separate club gym. This year, an additional training option for the girls were sessions at Altius Sports Performance and Rehabilitation Center in Stillwater. There, the girls focused on strength, power, speed, form, and balance.

“Training at Altius has been really good for strength and I’ve also been doing offseason practice at East Ridge with different coaches to get ready for the season,” senior Kendall Rogers said.

Last year, COVID-19 had a large impact on the season. Masks were required in many areas, spectators were limited and some meet locations were changed. The state meet is usually held at Roy Wilkins Auditorium, but it was held at Champlin Park High School last year to comply with restrictions.

Gymnastics is an individual sport, but it’s also a team sport.”

— Dusty Dennis

“Nothing major has been announced yet, but it is an indoor sport, which might make a difference. I think all they’re doing is encouraging social distancing at this point,” Dennis said.

Last season, Liberty Quast competed at the varsity level on the team as an eighth-grader. She not only lettered but also competed in vault at the state meet. She has been working hard in the off-season to have success for this coming year. “Personally, I’d really like to get good scores on all of my events, be on the sections team, and hopefully qualify for state again!” Liberty Quast said.

The Stillwater gymnastics team placed 5th at the state meet last year, receiving an overall team score of 143.925. Six out of the eight gymnasts on the team that competed at state will be returning this season. Sophomore Katelyn McDowell competed in all four events at state and led the team with the highest score in vault. Senior Ashley Peterson led the team in uneven bars and floor.

One thing that the team wants to focus on this year is team building. “As a captain, I want to make sure every girl is included and create more of a team environment, especially because we missed out on that last year with COVID,” Rogers said.

“I think our team’s biggest weakness is that sometimes we forget that we’re there for everybody, and we qualify for state as a team. Gymnastics is an individual sport, but it’s also a team sport,” Dennis added.