The Brainerd Warriors hosted seven teams at Saturday's Brainerd Holiday Invite and came away with a fourth-place finish.
With many young performers, the chance to go against experienced competition was a benefit and a challenge for Brainerd.
Big Lake, with first-place finishes from Laura Jore on vault and Courtney Jensen on floor exercise, took first with 142.825 points. The Warriors scored 137.150.
Brainerd's Kelsi Ring showed senior leadership and finished fourth in the all-around competition. She had Brainerd's top finish in three events and finished in the top 10 in three events.
Madison Smith competed for Brainerd on the uneven bars in the Warriors' invite. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"I just decided it's my last year of gymnastics so I have to go big or go home," Ring said.
Brainerd coach Dave Maras also sees quality in Ring's performance this year.
"I call it great leadership," he said. "She knows what needs to be done and has taken advantage of every opportunity to make herself better. I know she's staying here after practice to improve skills to get herself better and in return that will help the team."
Ring was happy with the team's fourth-place finish.
"We have only one won one meet so far, so I was really happy to get 137 after not scoring well in our first event," she said.
Brainerd's best performance of the day was on balance beam, where it tied Big Lake for first place with 36.050 points. Becky Walker led the Warriors with a 9.10, followed by Ring's 9.050, which tied her for fourth. Olivia Elsenpeter took sixth and Madison Grausam finished ninth.
"We've known all along that this was a pretty good beam squad," Maras said. "However, last week we scored poorly and we began to question ourselves.
"But then we turn right around with a lot of hits. That's where we hoped they would be and that's where they were today. And the nice part is we were in a competitive arena with a lot of good teams."
Ring was also delighted with the team's performance on beam.
"That was our best beam that we have had in a long time," she said. "We have been practicing a lot on it so it was one of our favorite events."
The Warriors weren't strong on vault or floor, but had another solid performance on the uneven bars.
Brainerd's Kelsi Ring competed on the uneven bars Saturday in the Warriors' holiday invite.
Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Ring finished ninth on vault with an 8.85 and was the Warriors' top finisher on floor (15th).
Brainerd placed three girls in the top 10 on bars. Ring finished seventh. Madison Smith was eighth and Mikayla Cerney was 10th.
Cerney is one of the young performers Maras is looking to contribute this winter and so far he has been pleased with the results.
"A lot of young kids are doing well this year," he said. "Mikayla Cerney has filled in exceptionally well on the bars and on the floor. Claire LePage and Jackie Caughey have also stepped up. And, Lonie Anderson has started to show that she can be competitive."
With a combination of seniors and underclassmen looking to find spots, Maras saw a lot of good Saturday as well as room for improvement.
"We had some really great bar routines," he said. "We had the best beam that we've had in a couple years. Any time you go 36-plus on beam that's good gymnastics.
"We had terrific bars. We struggled on vault but that will come. On our floor routine we were pumped up after the beam and actually out-tumbled ourselves. But we are going in a good direction. I feel good about where we're at."
Team scores: 1-Big Lake 142.825, 2-Lakeville 141.725, 3-Melrose 137.800, 4-Brainerd Warriors 137.150, 5-Park of Cottage Grove 136.500, 6-Moorhead 129.300, 7-Bemidji 125.975, 8-St. Paul Johnson 106.325.
Uneven parallel bars: 1-Nicole Myers (Lake) 9.400, 7-Kelsi Ring (Brd) 8.45, 9-Madison Smith (Brd) 8.40, 10-Mikayla Cerney (Brd) 8.375, 15-Allison Reuer (Brd) 8.20, 20-Becky Walker (Brd) 8.00, 26-Lonie Anderson (Brd) 7.825, 46-Anna Bieganek (Brd) 6.40.
Balance beam: 1-Hailey Brinkman (Mel) 9.60, 3-Walker 9.10, 4-Ring 9.050, 6-Olivia Elsenpeter (Brd) 8.975, 9-Madison Grausam (Brd) 8.925, 30-Smith 7.975, 31-Sydney Wold (Brd) 7.95, 42-Cerney 7.625, 48-Jackie Caughey (Brd) 7.30.
Floor exercise: 1-Courtney Jensen (BL) 9.525, 15-Ring 8.725, 20-Cerney 8.525, 23-Walker 8.425, 34-Caughey 8.050, 44-Allison Reuer (Brd) 7.80, 48-Claire LePage (Brd) 7.40, 50-Anderson 7.250, 51-Wold 7.20.
Vault: 1-Laura Jore (BL) 9.225, 9-Ring 8.850, 22-Wold 8.50, 26-Smith 8.350, 33-Walker 8.25, 34-LePage (Brd) 8.225, 40-Jenny Muesing (Brd) 8.10, 45-Reuer 8.00, 58-Cerney 7.10.
All-around: 1-Brinkman (Mel) 36.55, 4-Ring 35.075, 11-Walker 33.775, 21-Cerney 31.625.
Next: Brainerd at St. Cloud Tech 6 p.m. Tuesday.
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