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Two Tiger gymnasts earn honorable mentions at conference meet

Two Morris Area gymnasts were honored at the West Central Conference Meet Saturday, Feb. 13 hosted by Paynesville/Eden Valley-Watkins. All-Conference Honorable Mention honors were given to juniors Rachel Moser and Cammi Aanerud.

All-Conference individual awards and honorable mentions are determined by adding the total number of points for all girls for both the dual meets and conference tournament. The top fifteen girls with the best point totals are named All-Conference receiving a medal and certificate, with the next five girls receiving Honorable Mention and a certificate.

Overall, the Tigers finished in sixth place with 105.725 points.

The Section 6A meet is this Saturday, Feb. 20 at the New London-Spicer High School. Competition begins at 5 p.m. Four of the top 15 class A teams in the state are in Section 6.

"We have come a long way from our first conference meet against Benson on Dec. 8 in which varsity posted a score of 85.85," said coach Trent Oberg. "To have a 20-point swing (improvement) says a lot about these Tiger gymnasts. The hard work, dedication, and desire to improve are great to see.

"All of the gymnasts deserve a pat on the back and congratulations on a job well done," he added. "Keep it up girls - we are proud of you and the accomplishments you have made this season."

The Tigers had a break from competition of over two weeks. Oberg said there are pros and cons to having a long break.

On the positive side, it gave the team a chance to improve routines with new tricks or missing elements.

Also, with a smaller group of gymnasts to work with, more focus can be given to individuals.

The team is smaller because the junior varsity season is complete. Oberg and his assistants had to reduce the squad to varsity gymnasts and alternates.

"This was not an easy task - the depth on our team is very impressive," Oberg said. "It's hard to pick and choose - each athlete has strong points and events."

The more relaxed pace of practice gave gymnasts time to let injuries heal and recover, which was also a bonus.

However, Oberg felt that the lack of meet pressure was a drawback. He tried to eliminate this by having games and challenges during practice.

Oberg explained that the roster was filled through auditions during practice. Each position had to be earned.

The Tigers began the meet on floor and set a new season-high event total.

"Nice improvements were seen in form and dance," said Oberg.

"We continue to struggle with bars - stops, extra swings, missed tricks - are really adding up," Oberg said. "We need to be more aggressive. We've been trying to change routines and tricks."

Oberg said the vault will be seeing some changes at the Section meet on the 20th.

"We're raising the level of tricks performed, thus raising the start value - which in turn raises the final score," said Oberg.

"The beam was ok - not as good as we had at Frazee," said Oberg."It's hard to end on beam for the day as it's mentally draining.

"Overall, we did a good job at the meet," said Oberg. "We were pleased with the girls and their routines.

"Hailey Kotts had a really good day," said Oberg. "She has really been working hard the last few weeks."

Kotts set three new personal best scores on bars, beam, and in all-around.

"Kourtney Giese was 'energetic' to say the least," said Oberg. "She is really starting to get in the groove - if she is nervous, she is covering it well."

Giese set a new personal-best on floor, tied her personal-best on beam, and missed setting a new personal best in all-around by .1.

Melrose Area won the meet with 145.125 points. New London-Spicer came in second with a 135.350. Paynesville/Eden Valley-Watkins placed third with a 126.000. Benson/Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg took fourth with a 124.000. Long Prairie-Grey Eagle was fifth with 114.9 points.

The West Central Conference Team Champion, based on overall team results, was a tie between New London-Spicer and Melrose Area.

The conference meet was scored as a dual meet for each team against another. Wins and losses were added to the teams' regular-season conference win-loss record.

Paynesville/Eden-Valley Watkins came in third, Benson/Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg placed fourth, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle finished fifth, and Morris Area took sixth.