Most great teams are led by a confident star who's produced long enough to earn the respect of teammates.
Most high school teams rarely find themselves with such a luxury because most athletes need to wait their turn behind more polished upperclassmen before they are given a starting role.
The Brainerd Warriors gymnastics team has such a leader in Kathleen Lorenz. She won two of four individual events and finished second in the others as Brainerd beat Cambridge 143.375 to 140.2 Saturday.
Lorenz won the uneven bars with a 9.6 and floor exercise with a 9.25 on her way to capturing the all-around title with 37.05 points.
Lorenz's performance Saturday, as well as her history of excellence in gymnastics, continued her rise through the ranks of standout Warrior individuals.
Beating the Blue Jackets, last year's Class 2A state runner-up, should help raise the expectations of the Warriors, currently the fourth-ranked team in 2A. But don't expect Brainerd to look too far ahead just yet.
"We just want to keep improving every day," Warriors coach Dave Maras said.
So far, it looks as if the coach's wishes are coming to fruition.
Katie Perpich finished second to Lorenz in the all-around with a score of 36.15 and won the vault with a 9.375.
This day, however, belonged to Lorenz. She even turned her mistakes into crowd pleasers. During her beam routine, she slipped and started to fall but avoided hitting the floor, which would have dropped her score.
"I knew I had to get back on (the beam)," Lorenz said. "It was very chalky. I just knew I had to finish."
"She's definitely up there with the very best that we have ever had," Maras said.
Maras also praised Maggie Freiday, who finished seventh on beam; Lauren Trapp, who hit her bar routine for the first time; and Amanda Johnson, who also nailed her vault for the first time this season.
"Lauren epitomized our attitude today," said Maras.
Brainerd 143.275, Cambridge 140.200
Uneven parallel bars -- 1-Kathleen Lorenz (B) 9.6, 2-Kara Rutman (B) 9.225, 3-Katie Perpich (B) 8.975.
Balance beam -- 1-Jo Radziun (C) 9.15, 2-Lorenz (B) 8.9, 5-Perpich (B) 8.725.
Floor exercise -- 1-Lorenz (B) 9.25, 3-Perpich (B) 9.075, 5-Annie Bahr (B) 8.8.
Vault -- 1-Perpich (B) 9.375, 2-Lorenz (B) 9.3, 3-Amanda Johnson (B) 9.1.
All-around -- 1-Lorenz (B) 37.05, 2-Perpich (B) 36.15.
Overall -- B 3-0. Next meet -- Brainerd hosts St. Cloud Apollo 6 p.m. Thursday.
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