The Alexandria gymnastics team was a young group last season with only one senior on the team in Kaylee Meyer.

Not only do the Cardinals have a lot of experience returning from that group, but they have also added big numbers that should give Alexandria more depth to work with.

“Our strength heading into this season is the number of girls on our team,” second-year head coach Tayler Kaufman said. “Last year, there were 14 athletes on the gymnastics team. This year, we have doubled that number and have 30 athletes. Our greatest strength coming into this season is experience.”

Most of those newcomers were athletes from the local club program who bring with them plenty of gymnastics background.

“Most have trained or competed alongside last year's varsity team when they were younger,” Kaufman said. “Whether it's from high school experience or club experience, cumulatively there have been a lot of hours spent practicing and competing. It will pay off when facing the mental pressure of meets.”

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Rachel Boyden and Kelsey Fletcher are senior team captains who Kaufman said are doing a great job of keeping everyone energetic and positive through the challenges of this season.

“They are amazing leaders and contribute immensely to our team,” Kaufman said.

Boyden was the Cardinals’ MVP on the vault last season, while Fletcher was the MVP on the floor. Both earned All-Central Lakes Conference honors.

“My expectation for this group is to practice and compete like it's our last chance,” Kaufman said. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many uncertainties and questions. Things can change in a blink of an eye. The girls are getting as mentally and physically prepared as they can in hopes of competing at section finals and the state tournament. The athletes are aware that we might not get a section or state meet, but are working hard and are remaining positive.”

That’s the mindset that Kaufman wants her athletes to tackle the whole season with as the Cardinals try to build upon a lot of experience gained last winter.

“There is no change at all from my standpoint in the outcomes and expectations that I have for this team,” Kaufman said. “The athletes are expected to participate with class, integrity, and respect. We will continue to work hard and have a winning and positive mindset.”

2021 ALEXANDRIA GYMNASTICS

SENIORS - Miriam Anderson, Rachel Boyden, Kelsey Fletcher

JUNIORS - Loren Buggert, Ailynn Fettig, Isabelle Johnson, Hailie Kent, Ellie Rauk

SOPHOMORES - Amaya Hughes, Izabella Kent, Hannah Skillings

FRESHMEN - Sara Eddy, Addison Fettig, Mia Haugen, Skylar Makela, Chloe Steele, Dylan Witt

EIGHTH-GRADERS - Savannah Auran, Tatiana Cantwell, Kiera Christensen, Addison Gulbranson, Zoie Roemer, Addison Twa, Ashlyn Violette

SEVENTH-GRADERS - Jamie Aldis, Kate Boyden, Natalya Cantwell, McKenzie Huwe, Maya Perry, Abigail Sheller

ALEXANDRIA GYMNASTICS SCHEDULE

Jan. 14 vs. Bemidji, 6 p.m.

Jan. 21 at Sartell, 6 p.m.

Jan. 22 at Moorhead, 6 p.m.

Jan. 28 at Willmar, 6 p.m.

Feb. 4 at St. Cloud Tech/Apollo, 6 p.m.

Feb. 9 vs. Detroit Lakes, 6 p.m.

Feb. 11 vs. Fergus Falls, 6 p.m.

Feb. 19 vs. LPGE, 6 p.m.

Feb. 23 at Sauk Rapids-Rice, 6 p.m.

Feb. 25 vs. Brainerd, 6 p.m.

March 8 at Melrose Area, 6 p.m.