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These are the 3rd place or better finishers representing the JV and varsity. Katie Huot was 2nd all around. From left to right: MichelleJipson, Hailey Kotts, Rachel Moser, Katie Huot, Cammi Aanerud and Jessica Daly. Not pictured are Missy Ascheman and Caroline Fritz..

Tiger gymnasts down Trojans

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The Morris Area gymnastics team traveled to Ortonville Friday, Jan. 9 for a non-conference dual meet, where the Tigers were victorious for the third meeting this season.

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This was the third time that the varsity Tigers had been in competition with the Trojans and the second meeting for the junior varsity teams.

"I wanted the girls to go into this meet with high goals and expectations - to not take this meet lightly," said coach Trent Oberg. "We needed to keep our routines clean and aggressive. I did not want them to be over-confident. That is when problems occur.

"There are some big meets ahead of us yet this season and we need to keep that in mind. The goals that we set are within reach and keeping up the positive momentum is an important part in meeting them."

"Throughout the evening, the balance beam event was not going as well as we had hoped," said Oberg. "In practices earlier in the week, we tried to focus on the tricks that were causing problems for the gymnasts - specifically, the required full turn.

"On the balance beam, you either stick the trick or you fall. Each fall deducts five tenths off of your score. It was not a good night for us. It seemed that once a gymnast fell, it threw them off for the rest of the routine - thus allowing for more falls.

"If a gymnast can recover after a fall, that is a good indication of their determination. I have told the girls that I would rather see them fight the fall and wrap themselves around the beam, than to just give up and drop off. That is easier said than done," he added. "There are some tricks that if you start slightly off, there is no hope of recovery.

"The scores that we receive on beam are exciting, even with the falls. We have the possibilities of scores in the high sevens and eights at the varsity level. The routines are cleaning up greatly and looking more fluent, we just need to eliminate the falls and bobbles.

"I would love to see the event-total school record broken on the beam. I really feel that this group has that ability."

In junior varsity action, the Tigers came away with a 88.8-74.6 victory.

"We are going to break that 90 point barrier yet," said Oberg. "The girls are determined and eager to see it happen.

"At every meet, there are improvements from each person. There is a true sense of depth on the squad. If one gymnast stumbles, there is another to make up for the mistake."

Junior Missy Ascheman received her personal-best score on the uneven bars of 5.0. For her efforts, she was the first-place finisher in JV competition on bars.

Paige Loew also improved her personal-best on bars and received a score of 3.4.

The JV event total at bars of 17.6 was a season-high for the Tigers.

At the floor exercise, seventh grader Michaela Jarvis improved her personal-best score by half of a point to 4.0.

"The JV was close in other event total highs for the season," added Oberg. "It will be fun to see what happens in their three remaining meets."

At the varsity level, the Tigers defeated the Trojans 114.0-107.55.

"I feel like a broken record, but we are not at the top of our potential. I like that, knowing that the 'big' meets are yet to come," commented Oberg. "It is always a concern of any coach to peak too early in the season. I feel that we will peak at the right time.

"What is even more exciting is that the gymnasts are realizing it too. They are encouraging each other, challenging each other and pushing one another. The future is wide open with this group."

Freshman Larissa Schmidgall continued to make improvements in her routines. She was able to attain a new personal-best at the uneven bars with a score of 4.85 and on the floor exercise with a score of 6.4.

"Schmidgall is one of those athletes that knows when to buckle down and work, while at the same time can be silly and get the rest of the team and the coaches to laugh at something that she has said or done," said Oberg.

"With three dual meets remaining in the regular season, it is that time of year that we coaches most dread. At the West Central Conference Meet and the Section 6A Meet in February, we have to scale back on the size of the team.

"It is a hard thing to do. All of these girls have been working hard this season. I wish that all of them could participate, but that is just not possible. This year will be an extremely difficult one to pick that reduced team."

For the first time in the history of the Morris Area gymnastics program, the Tigers are hosting the Section 6A Gymnastics Meet. This is the State Tournament qualifier for team and individual competition. The event is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 21.

"This is a huge undertaking and commitment for the Tiger gymnasts and families," said Oberg. "We are looking for volunteers in many areas: equipment set-up, concessions, score runners, timers, and tear-down."

If you are willing to help or would like to find out more information, please contact Tiger gymnastics coach Trent Oberg at the school - (320) 589-4400 ext.2058 or at his email toberg@ morris.k12.mn.us.

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