In high school gymnastics, as Mandan looks to make the postseason for the first time since 2012. Their middle schoolers might be what takes them over top.
This year, Mandan’s gymnastics team has seven middle schoolers and five high schoolers.
“It’s kind of rare to have a team this big,” head coach Amanda Lantz said. “They are not a lot of teams in the state that are the same size as ours.”
And that is good news.
“Some of them brought all-around scores,” Lantz said, “which we were missing last year.”
And team depth.
“Some of them are very strong on the floor or some of them are strong on vault,” Lantz said. “We do have a couple that are fairly strong on bars, which was surprising.”
Seventh-grader Jericah Lockner is one of the top performers on the team.
“My training is really helping me,” Lockner said. “Hopefully, I’ll get higher levels, higher skills and eventually place in the top three.”
So far this season, Jericah’s placed in the top 10 of the all-around four times against older competition.
“It kind of scares me a little bit,” Lockner said. “I know that I will not get that high of a ranking, but if I try my hardest I’ll be proud of myself.”
The older girls are happy to have the younger girls on the team.
“A lot of them have been in gymnastics or
have gymnastics experience so they have added a lot to the team score.” sophomore Rylee Bowers said.
And if these girls can post the teams scores needed to qualify for state, it will be huge for their confidence.
“The girls have so much more potential than they are actually reaching,” Lantz said. “I think actually being able to get to the state tournament will give them the confidence to know that they can do this. It’s within their reach.”
Right now, Mandan ranks 10th in the state. By my calculation, the Braves need to post scores of 125 or better in their five remaining meets to make the state tournament. Currently, they average a little above 121 per outing.