While building a winning tradition, the Brainerd Warriors gymnastics team has competed against the best the state has to offer.
That tradition will continue this season, particularly in Brainerd's five-team invite Dec. 8 and its annual holiday invite Dec. 22.
Classic Lake Conference schools Wayzata, Edina, Hopkins and Robbinsdale Armstrong will furnish the opposition Dec. 8. Wayzata finished seventh in the Class 2A state meet, Hopkins was eighth.
Fourteen days later, Bemidji, Lakeville North, Eastview, Park of Cottage Grove, Melrose, Big Lake and Winona will compete in the holiday meet. Park was third in 2A last season.
Shana Lingwall (left), Carlie Kramer, Samantha Smith, Kelsi Ring, Becky Walker and Missy Brown return to the Brainerd Warriors gymnastics team this season after competing in the Section 8-2A meet last year. Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"Our meets are going to be very interesting because we're going to see about every top team in the state," Warriors coach Dave Maras said.
The Warriors return two state entrants from last season's team that finished 7-1 in Central Lakes Conference meets, 8-1 overall.
Junior Samantha Smith placed 24th in the state in all-around. Sophomore Becky Walker finished 27th in 2A on vault.
"Samantha had a great fall," Maras said. "She's back (in gymnastics) and ready to go. She had a week off (after the state diving meet) so she's kind of (hurrying) to get back in shape. She has added some new stuff, and we look for her to have a good year.
"Becky will be an all-arounder. Last year she was varsity vault only. Now it looks like she probably will be in all four events."
Head coach: Dave Maras, 26th season.
Career dual meet record: 243-30 (.890).
2006-07 record: 7-1 CLC, 8-1 overall, Central Lakes Conference runner-up; second in Section 8-2A.
Returning state entrants: Samantha Smith, Becky Walker.
Assistant coaches: Jeff Nelson, Rick Redshaw; volunteers P.J. Smith, Jim Kramer, Alex Bade
29 - WILLMAR, 6 p.m.
4 - SARTELL, 6 p.m.
8 - BRD QUAD, 11 a.m.
13 - at Sauk Rapids-Rice, 6 p.m.
18 - ALEXANDRIA, 6 p.m.
22 - BRD INVITE, 11 a.m.
3 - at Fergus Falls, 6 p.m.
8 - ST. CLOUD APOLLO, 6 p.m.
12 - at Lakeville, 6 p.m.
15 - at Little Falls, 6 p.m.
26 - at Park Cottage Grove, 11 a.m.
29 - at St. Cloud Tech, 6 p.m.
2 - at Conference championships
5 - GRAND RAPIDS, 6 p.m.
Junior Carlie Kramer, who competed on balance beam and floor exercise in the section meet, may be another all-arounder.
"It's a nice situation for us to have three all-arounders," Maras said. "That's not something we've had the luxury of having.
"We're working all our kids in all events. You never know where you will need them somewhere down the line."
Other returning members of the section team include sophomore Kelsi Ring (vault), junior Missy Brown (beam) and junior Shana Lingwall (floor, vault). Senior Mary Petersen may miss much of the season following back surgery.
Maras said Lingwall is a possible all-arounder, sophomore Madison Smith and Ring will each likely be in at least three events, Brown in at least two.
"We've got some young kids coming in who are going to make an impact," Maras said. "They're going to be there. It will take them a little while to get used to competing at the varsity and junior varsity levels, but when it's all said and done we'll be just fine.
"We should be comparable, if not better, than last year."
Maras looks to Section 8-2A champion and 2A state runner-up St. Cloud Tech to be formidable in the conference and section. The Tigers are led by vault state champion Alise Post, who placed fourth in the 2A all-around competition.
"Tech is going to be awesome," Maras said. "They basically have everyone back from last year when they finished second in the state.
"Our conference is going to be a good, tough conference. Hopefully, we'll be in the hunt. I think we'll be a little better team than we were, but you never know. If we can eliminate injuries ... we will have a nice team, a fun team to watch.
"I'm really pleased with this team. I'm excited because I want to see what happens. With the way the girls are working right now ... they keep getting better every day.
"It will take a while on bars, it always does. It will take a while on floor because of the conditioning. We're certainly not going to let our tradition fall."
Seniors: Mary Petersen, Jenny Klabo
Juniors: Missy Brown, Carlie Kramer, Samantha Smith, Shana Lingwall, Kassandra Tusler, Becca Tadych, Michelle Stevens,
Sophomores: Alison Reuer, Kelsi Ring, Madison Smith, Becky Walker
Freshmen: Olivia Elsenpeter, Bryana Kron, Abby Buchta, Claire Campbell,
Eighth-graders: Madison Grausam, Hayley Sinner,
Seventh-graders: Jackie Caughey, Anna Bieganek, Sydney Wold, Rebecca Westafer, Brooke Taylor, Kaylee Hoffman
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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