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Minnesota Flyer gymnasts pack in the meets

By Jen Smith

February was a busy competition month for the Minnesota Flyers Gymnastics competitive teams.

The Flyers were in action Feb. 15, as the Level 3-5 teams were in Valley City, N.D., attending the “I WUV YOU” meet. 

The level 4 team placed 3rd out of 7 teams. MFG had several top 10 finishers at this meet.

In the senior division, Grace Manning placed sixth overall with an all-around score of 34.90. 

Jordan Ehnert placed ninth with an all-around score of 34.50. 

In the junior division, Isabella Smith placed fourth with an all-around score of 34.80. 

Gabby Whitworth placed ninth with an all-around score of 34.10.

Mackenzie Hilden was the lone Level 3 competitor.  She finished 13th with an all-around score of 34.95. 

Sabrina Ruiz placed 7th with an all-around score of 33.40 in the Level 5 competition.

Coach Steph Birkland was extremely pleased with the girls’ performances.  She noted significant improvements in all the athletes since starting competitions this season. 

“We had a record breaking six athletes score a 9.0 or better on the floor at Valley City,” she added.

The Level 3-5 team competed on back-to-back weekends. 

They were in Jamestown, N.D., attending the Winter Escape meet on Feb. 22-23. 

Level 5 gymnast Kaitlyn Peterson had a successful meet. 

The level 4 team brought 11 gymnasts and placed third out of nine teams. 

The girls are preparing for their last meet of the season by spending the next two weeks cleaning up routines. 

Their goal is to earn a first or second place team finish at the Grand Forks, N.D., meet in March.

The Level 7-9 teams were in St. Cloud, forgetting about winter at the “Tropical Twist” meet.

The level 8 team earned a third-place trophy. 

Jackson Hegg placed second with an all-around score of 34.60, Kennedy Hegg placed fourth with an all-around score of 34.425 and Emily Smith placed fifth with an all-around score of 33.825.  She was the vault champion with a score of 8.75. 

Smith also qualified for the Minnesota state meet, which will be held in March.

Level 9 Justine Lawrence earned a second place finish with an all-around score of 34.75. 

She was the bars champion with a score of 8.775. 

Her teammate, Peyton Jernberg, only competed in three events. 

She earned a 9.3 on floor, which was good enough for a third place finish.

Autumn Kulik is the only level 7 gymnast on the team.  She also only competed in three events.  Her vault of 8.75 earned her a second-place finish.

At the end of February, the level 7-9 gymnasts attended the Northern Lights meet at the Minneapolis Convention Center. 

This meet draws teams from Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. 

The judging at this meet is very similar to the upcoming state competition, which allows the athletes to mentally and physically prepare. 

In Level 9, Lawrence placed in the top ten for each of her events. 

She was seventh in her age category for the all-around. 

Level 8, Jackson Hegg placed on beam, bars, and floor. 

Her all-around score earned her an eighth place finish. 

Emily Smith earned a medal on vault. 

Lexi Yliniemi rejoined the team after finishing up her High School season. 

She earned a medal on vault and floor.  She also qualified for the state meet.

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