Two weeks after the majority of Red Wing’s winter sports held their first competition, its gymnasts are ready to join the competitive fray. The Wingers have been practicing since Jan. 4 but have a back loaded schedule with eight meets in five weeks. Despite the condensed, conference-only schedule and breaking in young gymnasts to the varsity spotlight, Red Wing head gymnastics coach Lisa Hanson is optimistic about the potential this team has.
Of the returning gymnasts, there is only one senior on the varsity squad. Lily Fox is returning to the team after a few years away, as is her sister Chloe Fox, a sophomore this season. Hanson said she believes Chloe has the potential to have a standout season this year as she is strong in all four events. Other key returners include Maddison Marking, Jaysa Dille and Sylvia Marty.
“We have a young team, we're in a rebuilding year. We lost quite a bit of our varsity last year with our seniors,” Hanson said. “So this year we're building back up but we do have three girls that have potential to make state if things go well. Just like any other sport, it's who stays on the beam and who doesn't, or who makes their free throws and who doesn't.”
Newcomers to the team to keep an eye on this year include Akacia Ingram, Kylie Bray, Madeline Brown.
“All three of those girls are coming from our TNT team and really have some great skills and work ethic,” Hanson said. “It's really been fun to watch them in the gym and see the skills that they're bringing to us.”
Something that Hanson said she’s been particularly pleased with is having those practice weeks ahead of the first meet to ensure proper conditioning of the gymnasts. With no gymnastics room on site at the school, the program was left in limbo as it relied on the TNT Gymnastics building to reopen after being closed for periods of time as a result of Gov. Tim Walz’s statewide closure orders. During that time, Hanson was left to wonder the condition of the gymnasts entering that first day of practice. She said it was clear right away that some had been conditioning at home, while others hadn’t. Having nearly four whole weeks of preparation has been vital to getting everyone on the same page.
With the first competition Friday, it was about as ready as the Wingers could have possibly gotten themselves considering the circumstances. Looking ahead, Red Wing will travel to Owatonna on Tuesday and then host their second meet of the year on Friday against Northfield. After that, the Wingers have three meets in an eight-day span and then travel to Mankato the week before the Big 9 Conference meet set for March 12-13.
How and if section and state championships are held remains an open question, but the one thing for certain is Red Wing will have a different looking team trying to improve upon its fourth-place finish in the Section 1A meet a year ago. And if the Wingers send a gymnast to state, it’ll be their first time performing on the biggest stage.
“I know the girls have a little bit of anxiety of, ‘Oh, we don't have Breck anymore and Carolyn or whomever,” Hanson said. “But I’m also like ‘Yeah they’re gone but girls, look at you, you’re fine,’ and reminding them that they are leaders and have the abilities and potential for great things if they keep working hard and stay focused.”