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Tiger gymnasts face tough Melrose team

The Morris Area gymnastics team traveled to Melrose for a West Central Conference Meet on Thursday, Dec. 18. The Tigers were hoping to continue their trend of improvements that they had started this season. Coming off of wins against Ortonville earlier in the week, the junior varsity and varsity squads wanted to keep their spirits high and give it their all before the Holiday Break.

"For some reason, Melrose is a tough gym to perform in. They are always a tough opponent," said coach Trent Oberg. "Their coaching staff and feeder programs are a credit to their success."

Melrose has won the WCC Championship and Section 6A Championship many times; along with numerous team and individual championships at the state level.

"It is a good meet to get ideas from," said Oberg. "The gymnasts see new tricks or combinations that they would like to try. I even find myself learning new things and often catch myself wondering why I had not thought of that.

"After thirteen years in the program, I am still learning and will continue to learn. Bottom line, the coaches just want the girls to give it their best and have fun. What happens in the end is just 'icing on the cake'."

In junior varsity action, the Tigers fell to Melrose 115.65-89.95.

"I was very impressed with our JV girls. This was their season-high team score and a JV record," explained Oberg. "From the records that I have, and while I have been coaching, there has not been a JV team score that high. I would not be surprised if the 90-point mark will be broken in the near future."

Seventh graders Michaela Jarvis and Emily Moser opened their gymnastics career on the floor exercise. Jarvis received a score of 3.1 and Moser received a 3.4.

"It is always great to see the younger gymnasts getting out there to perform for the first time," Oberg said. "Nerves are going to always be there, but the more you get out performing, it will get a little easier every time.

Besides the season-high (and record-high) JV team score, the Tigers increased their uneven bar total to a 16.45 and the balance beam total moved to a 23.9.

In varsity action, the Tigers did not appear to be at the top of their 'game'. The Tigers fell to Melrose 134.9-110.35. On a positive note, the team event total at vault was a season-high 32.85.

"I think that it was a mixture of nerves and being worn out. We have been working very hard and have had a busy schedule so far this season," said Oberg. "It might have been my 'fault' as well. This was the first time that I had forgotten my tennis shoes in all of my years coaching (so we had to stop and pick them up before leaving town) and I wore the wrong colored shirt - purple (the Melrose school colors). I am not a superstitious person, but I had to wonder that night.

"Also, being the only coach that night - assistant coach Samantha Jipson was taking a college final - I was running around like a lunatic," Oberg admitted. "Once the varsity competition started I was already worn out. Thanks to a couple of gymnasts, I was able to get myself re-focused before the meet was entirely over. We (gymnasts and coaches) feed off of one another, so I do appreciate the 'kick in the butt'."

There were numerous personal bests achieved at the meet. At vault, Michelle Jipson and Larissa Schmidgall received their personal-best scores of 8.15 each. Seventh grader Paige Schieler raised her personal-best on the vault as well, to a 7.4.

On the uneven bars, Hailey Kotts improved her score to a new personal-best of 5.25. Kotts also had a great performance with her floor routine. She improved her score to a 6.2 - a new personal-best.

"She was deserving of the score," said Oberg. "Hailey has been working hard in practice, especially with her tumbling passes, and it is beginning to pay off."

At the balance beam, sophomore Cammi Aanerud nearly had a stuck routine.

"She had a little struggle with her dismount, but was rewarded with a new personal best score of 6.5," said Oberg.

Junior Jess Daly 'chalked-up' another stuck beam routine scoring a 6.65.

"I am seeing a lot of consistency with her routines," said Oberg. "She looks very calm and confident while she is performing and it is fun to watch. Daly is starting to work on some new tricks to up the level of difficulty in her routine, as well."

The floor exercise saw the most gymnasts receiving personal-bests that night. Michelle Jipson improved to a 7.85.

"This was also the first meet that she threw a new front pass that she had been working on," said Oberg. "It was a great feeling to see the smile on her face when she made the front tuck - front tuck combination. She was beaming for the rest of the routine."

Seventh graders Kendra Buro, Paige Loew, and Abby Travis all received their personal-best scores receiving a 3.6, a 5.4, and a 4.0, respectively.

"All in all, it was a good meet for us. As in all meets there were positive things and some areas of concern," added Oberg. "We are realizing how deep we are as a team.

"Thankfully, we have had very few injuries and the few that we have had are minor. I have no doubts that the new year will bring more excitement and growth for the Tiger gymnastics team."