The Morris Area gymnastics team opened the 2008-09 season Tuesday, Dec. 9 in West Central Conference action against Benson. Led by senior captains Katie Huot and Michelle Jipson, the Tigers were ready to start the new season.
"Last year was a great boost to the gymnasts and coaches," said coach Trent Oberg. "We were not ready for the season to end. Improvements were made all across the board and the future looked very promising."
The young Tiger team did not lose any gymnasts to graduation. Nearly all of the varsity competitors returned for the new season.
"We also brought in seven talented seventh graders, several of whom have been training at Willmar Wings Gymnastics Club," said Oberg. "These gymnasts represent the future of Tiger gymnastics. Paige Schieler, Risa Fehr and Paige Loew will be some names to look for in the future.
"As a coach, I was very excited for this year to start. I knew that the talent and potential for the upcoming season was endless," said Oberg. "There is going to be a lot of inner squad 'push' between the gymnasts. We have not had that in several years. No position is going to be 'safe' this season and that is a great feeling. Each gymnast is going to have to work for their position in the lineup.
"The Benson meet was our stepping stone for the start of the new season. I was not sure what to expect as far as team scores. Throughout the meet, the Tiger gymnasts were energetic, supportive of one another and positive," Oberg said.
"It was a great first meet and one of the most fun meets that I can remember in a long time," said Oberg.
In Junior Varsity action the Tigers picked up a victory 83.1-77.4.
"As far as I can remember, this is the highest JV score that I know about and the first time that the JV has won the first meet of the season," said Oberg. "Up until this point, I am not sure if the JV squad has ever broken 80 points. This was awesome."
In varsity action, Morris Area was narrowly defeated 119.875-108.55.
"The coaches were very impressed with the final results. It was the first meet of the season and already we were scoring near our top total of the previous season," Oberg said. "It is truly going to be an exciting season. We have not even scratched the surface of the talent this team has."
Huot placed in all of her events and took fourth overall with a score of 29.2.
There were numerous personal bests and team bests during the meet. Besides the JV team total, their Vault event total of 29.1 represents a new high.
"For many of the gymnasts, this meet was a first-time showing," explained Oberg.
Sophomore Tara Fehr competed on the Balance Beam for her first time and scored a 5.9. Younger sister Risa Fehr competed for the first time on the Uneven Bars and received a 3.0.
Other first-time showings included Abby Travis on the Floor Exercise with a score of 3.2 and Hailey Kotts on the Balance Beam with a score of 3.7. This was also Kotts' debut as a JV All-Around Gymnast with a final score of 16.9.
Senior Michelle Jipson returned to gymnastics after taking some time off and started her season with a bang as she stuck her balance beam routine.
Other personal bests for the meet included: Tara Fehr on the Floor Exercise with a 6.425, Amanda Moser on the Uneven Bars with a 4.25, Missy Ascheman on the Vault with a 7.85, Rachel Moser on the Vault with an 8.275, and Larissa Schmidgall with two bests for the evening - at the Vault a score of 7.6 and on the Floor Exercise with a 5.85.
"The coaches were very impressed with the meet and the attitudes of the Lady Tigers," said Oberg "The TEAM philosophy and the idea that we are a family were truly evident. There will be a lot more personal bests and team highs this season.
"It is truly going to be a fun and exciting season. The depth of the team is tremendous and the talent is endless. I am proud of what the lady gymnasts have accomplished at their first meet," concluded Oberg.