Being the defending Section 8AA champion is a benefit in the estimation of Brainerd Warriors gymnastics coach Dave Maras.
"To be defending champion is to your advantage because you come in knowing that you have done it," Maras said. "You know what it takes. It can only make us believe more in what we're doing."
The Warriors enter Saturday's meet at St. Cloud Tech as one of the teams to beat. Brainerd went unbeaten in dual meets for the first time since 1992-93, going 6-0 in the Central Lakes Conference and 9-0 overall.
Brainerd also won the conference meet with a school-record 144.5 points.
"I felt all the way along that if we did our thing (Brainerd had a chance to go unbeaten)," Maras said. "But I don't measure it in wins and losses. It's more a matter if we do our thing the wins will take care of themselves."
Brainerd defeated section foes Alexandria, Little Falls, Moorhead and St. Cloud Apollo and Tech in the regular season. The only section opponents the Warriors haven't seen this season are Bemidji, Buffalo and Elk River.
Tech, runner-up in the conference meet, may pose the biggest challenge to the Warriors. The Tigers went 5-1 in conference meets, 7-2 overall. They lost to Brainerd 139.1 to 136.25 on Jan. 7.
Maras said hosting the meet might be an edge for the Tigers. He said it won't favor Tech from a judging standpoint but the Tigers may have an edge competing on their home equipment.
"We feel good about competing at Tech," Maras said. "They run a real nice meet. Our kids have always done well there so we're not too concerned about that."
The Warriors' season high on uneven parallel bars is 36.33 points, balance beam 35.75, floor exercise 36.5 and vault 36.57.
Brainerd has been paced on bars by Amanda Rau's 9.5 and Brianna Lester's 9.35. On beam Kathleen Lorenz and Rau have scored 9.2s and Tara Schmidt 9.15. On floor Crystal Yaunick has hit 9.45 and Amanda Johnson and Rau 9.2s. On vault Molly Smith leads with a 9.57 and Schmidt 9.2.
Four seniors will compete in their final section meet -- Molly Zauhar, Shayna McCulloch, Yaunick and Ranae Puetz. A fifth, Katherine Wilcox, will not compete because she is involved in an all-state orchestra event.
Warriors probable section lineup
Uneven parallel bars -- Tara Schmidt, Molly Zauhar, Brianna Lester, Crystal Yaunick, Amanda Rau
Balance beam -- Annalisa Aakhus, Kathleen Lorenz, Shayna McCulloch, Schmidt, Rau
Floor exercise -- Aakhus, Amanda Johnson, Molly Smith, Schmidt, Yaunick
Vault -- Annie Bahr, Zauhar, Rau, Schmidt, Smith
All-around -- Schmidt
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