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Gymnastics: Top four all-around scores lead Cards over Brainerd

The Alexandria gymnasts knew they would need a strong performance on Thursday night to knock off a Brainerd team that finished second in the Central Lakes Conference last winter.

Wendel
Alexandria senior Hannah Wendel goes through her bar routine during Thursday's meet against the Brainerd Warriors. (Eric Morken/Echo Press)

The Alexandria gymnasts knew they would need a strong performance on Thursday night to knock off a Brainerd team that finished second in the Central Lakes Conference last winter.

That’s exactly what the Cardinals got. Alexandria finished with the top four all-around scores and used that to help secure a 137.175-130.7 win over the Warriors at the Lakes Area gymnastics center.

“We came into this meet kind of knowing that it was going to be really, really close by looking at their scores this season,” senior Jana Roste said. “They’ve been right next to us. It was very nice that we got the win, but more importantly, we went up four points from our last meet. I think that’s what we were most excited about.”

The win moved Alexandria to 2-0 overall and in the CLC after the Cardinals beat Sauk Rapids-Rice with a score of 133 in their season opener last week. Roste was one of the four gymnasts to finish top four in the all-around as she racked up 32.175 points to take third. Fellow seniors Hannah Wendel (37.5) and Hailey Ebacher (34.4) were first and second, respectively. Freshman Joslyn Kent was fourth with a total score of 32.1.

“It’s great,” head coach Becca Cederberg said. “The girls did a really nice job. We went from having a 133 last week to having a 137 so that’ a huge leap for us. It’s really nice though, too. We know there’s still some things to fix. There’s some bigger skills that the girls have been working on, so there’s some great opportunities to keep that score growing.”

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Cederberg said that progression is what it’s all about for this team. She knows what the girls’ capabilities are, and they are practicing the skills they hope to show later in the year in meets as they build up their routine early on.

The Cardinals have still posted some nice scores through the first two competitions. Wendel is proving herself as one of the top gymnasts in the conference again this year after another impressive night against the Warriors. She improved on her all-around score of 36.025 last week by taking first in all four events against the Warriors.

Wendel’s best score came on the floor where she posted a 9.6. She added scores of 9.5 on the beam, a 9.05 on the bars and a 9.35 on the vault to easily secure the first place finish in the all-around.

“I felt really good about my meet,” Wendel said. “I know I have some room for improvement, but I think it’s a good start to the season.”

Ebacher was right behind Wendel in every event on Thursday. Her best score came on the vault with a second-place finish and a score of 9.05. She added runner-up finishes on the bars (8.3) and beam (8.65), while taking third on the floor with a score of 8.4.

Ebacher wasn’t even on the Cardinals roster last season. She competed through Alexandria’s club program since seventh grade before deciding she wanted to join the high school team for her senior season. She’s provided an instant boost to the roster with a couple of second place all-around finishes in the first two meets.

“It’s been quite an experience already,” Ebacher said. “I felt pretty strong and confident. I’m still picking my battles and trying to perfect some things, but I can’t complain about how the season’s gone so far…I’m trying to bring to the team dedication and hard work and what it can do for you as a gymnast, not only on the competition floor but outside, as well.”

Roste, Wendel and Ebacher are three captains and the only seniors for a group that doesn’t have a single junior on the roster. That means they are also trying to offer a lot of support to the young gymnasts on the team who will be the future of this program.

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“I’m kind of just trying to teach them to be confident and go out and have fun every meet,” Wendel said. “I think it’s really important for them to learn early on how to compete and work together as a team, so if we can get the younger girls doing that now, the program’s going to continue to grow.”

It’s only two meets into the season, but a 2-0 record and an improvement from their first meet to their second is a good start. Now the Cardinals are focused on continuing to grow and be posting their best scores by season’s end.  

“I think we’re just trying to make ourselves better as a team,” Roste said. “We know there’s still really good teams in our conference like [St. Cloud] Tech and Willmar. They’re not out of our sights, but I think right now we’re definitely rebuilding our young team and just trying to have great meets.”

 

 

Ebacher
Senior Hailey Ebacher competes on the beam during Alexandria's meet against Brainerd on Thursday night. (Eric Morken/Echo Press)

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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