All eyes in the state gymnastics community will be focused on Brainerd as the Warriors host some of the state's powers in a seven-team invitational at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Among them are six-time defending Class AA state champion Lakeville, ranked second by the State Gymnastics Coaches Association; two-time defending Class A state champion Big Lake, ranked second; Brainerd, ranked fifth in AA; and Apple Valley, rated seventh in AA.
In last season's AA state meet Park placed fifth and Brainerd seventh while Melrose was third in Class A.
Other participating teams are Hibbing, Melrose and Park of Cottage Grove.
Five individuals who placed in the top six at state will compete. The group includes Big Lake's Alyssa Cox, Class A state champion on the uneven parallel bars; Brainerd's Kathleen Lorenz, third on balance beam; Lakeville's Jenny Braun, fourth on bars; Park's Dawn Wilhite, fifth on beam; and Park's Lindsey Raymond, fifth on floor exercise.
On Tuesday the second-longest win streak in Minnesota high school athletics ended when Eden Prairie stunned Lakeville 138.225 to 136.85. Lakeville had won 163 consecutive meets. Its last loss was in the 1994 state meet when it was third.
Before this winter Lakeville hadn't scored less than 140 points in a meet since the 1990-91 season.
The state's longest win streak was set by the Edina girls' tennis. From 1978-94 the Hornets won 205 consecutive matches.
Two Brainerd area boys' teams are ranked in the top 10 by the Minnesota Basketball News. Unbeaten Little Falls is fourth in Class 3A and unbeaten Staples-Motley is seventh in AA.
Osseo, ranked No. 1 in the Class 4A boys' poll, is coached by former Brainerd girls' coach Adam Holm.
Pequot Lakes is conspicuously absent from the girls' rankings. The Patriots have played in two consecutive Class AA state tournaments and are off to a 5-1 start this season.
When the Brainerd Warriors participate in the George Perpich Memorial Tournament next week they will run into two of the state's best teams.
The Warriors play Hibbing 8 p.m. Wednesday and Greenway 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Hibbing is traditionally one of the better teams on the Iron Range and Greenway is ranked third in Class AA.
The Brainerd area continues to maintain its reputation as one of the state's wrestling hotbeds.
Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale is ranked second in Class A and Wadena-Deer Creek third in AA by the Guillotine. Both went to state last season and appear on their way to return trips in March.
-- Brainerd High School graduate Chris Bjorklund leads the Cal Poly men's basketball team in scoring with a 21-point average. He is shooting 49 percent from the field.
-- Nate Anderson of Deerwood is the third-leading scorer for the Minnesota-Duluth men's hockey team with 10 goals and four assists. He has seven power-play goals.
-- Brainerd High School graduate Chad Nelson is averaging 8.4 points for the Bemidji State men's basketball team. He is shooting 78 percent from the foul line and leads the team in assists with an average of 2.5.
-- Brainerd High School graduate Sara Hemquist is averaging 14 minutes, 3.3 rebounds and 2.0 points for the Northern State women's basketball team.
-- Pequot Lakes High School graduate Brianna Biebighauser is averaging 11.1 minutes, 1.3 rebounds and 3.4 points for the Moorhead State women's basketball team.
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