With several of the state's top teams and individuals in Brainerd to compete in the Warriors' holiday gymnastics meet Dec. 23, Maggie Freiday distinguished herself.
The Brainerd junior scored a 9.6 to win the vault and finished fifth in the all-around. The field included 10-time state champion Lakeville, 2004 2A state champion Park of Cottage Grove and 2005 2A runner-up Winona.
"Anytime you compete against the top teams in the state and come out with an individual championship that's a pretty good statement," Warriors coach Dave Maras said. "It lets people know, 'Here I am. This is a vault to watch.' I think some people mentioned that to Maggie after the meet was over.
"It was a matter of hitting it at the right time. Maggie is starting to get it right more often. She's been scoring 9.4, 9.45, 9.6 pretty consistently. I think her lowest was a 9.1. Her average is up there, around 9.35 or 9.4, which is pretty respectable."
The meet featured individuals like Marissa Provo of Lakeville, second in 2A on bars and sixth in all-around last season; and Park's Cristina Ortiz, a two-time floor exercise state champion.
"It was such a big meet," Freiday said, "because so many Twin City teams were in it. To win an event, or place in the top 10, was fun.
"The 9.6 tied my career high. It was nice to do it at our invitational. It was fun watching everyone else vault. Everyone else was pretty good. For me to come out on top was really exciting."
Freiday wasn't expecting a 35.7 all-around score.
"I put in a brand new bar routine prior to the invitational," she said. "That's the first meet that I did the whole bar routine. I figure bars is kind of my weak event, but my new routine could bump up my all-around score a little bit.
"When they were announcing 10th, ninth and eighth place they were all in the low 35s and I didn't think I would make the top 10. To be in the top five was a good surprise."
In the season's first five meets Freiday's performance hasn't been surprising. She has won floor exercise once, vault four times, the all-around title twice and was all-around runner-up once.
"Maggie's working hard at getting her bars a lot better," Maras said. "Bars is the only thing that's keeping her back. She's gotten a lot better since the beginning of the year.
Maggie Freiday profile
Weight: 115 pounds
Other sports: Track and field
Memorable sports achievement: Qualifying for state as eighth-grader on vault
Grade-point average: 3.9
Favorite subject: Math
Favorite food: Pizza rolls
Favorite TV show: "CSI"
Future plans: Attend college, become a teacher
Athlete she admires: Former teammate Annalisa Aakhus
Parents: Dave and Kelly Freiday
"On vault she has started better than where she left off last year. This year she's got a lot more confidence. She's attacking it better.
"On beam and floor she's had a great year. She's averaging well over 9.0 on both so she's 9-plus in three events. She is finally getting her bar score to the mid- to upper-8s. When that happens your all-around score goes up. Her goal, I'm sure, is to get to the 36s in all-around. That's right up there with the best."
Last season was the first that Freiday, a varsity performer since seventh grade, didn't qualify for state. Before that she was a member of three straight Warrior teams that qualified. She also qualified individually as an eighth-grader on vault.
"It was a different feeling not to (qualify) but we still went to watch Nicole Smith because she made it individually," Freiday said. "I want to go back."
Other notable efforts:
Kayla Huether, girls' basketball averaged 19 points in the Brainerd tournament.
Josiah Collins, swimming, won two events in the Brainerd Invitational.
Landon Stanfield, boys' basketball, averaged 22.5 points in the Brainerd tournament.
Nick Whichello, boys' hockey, made 38 saves against Apple Valley.
Jess Bye, girls' hockey, had four goals and four assists in the Brainerd tournament.
MIKE BIALKA can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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