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Crawford captures another state title

Amy crawford performs on the beam during the Class 1A state meet in March. Crawford won the Lakers' first-ever state gymnastics championship on beam, then proceeded to win the Flyers' first state title when she took the all-around division in Level 9. (Brian Basham / Record)

After winning the first-ever Detroit Lakes' state gymnastics championship last month, junior Amy Crawford didn't even take a breather, instead she went out and made more area gymnastics history.

Crawford became the first Minnesota Flyers Gymnastics state champion after claiming the all-around title in the USAG Minnesota State meet Level 9 Division with a mark of 36.075.

With her second state title safely tucked away, she will now move on to the Region 4 Championships April 9-11, in Kansas City, Mo.

But the Flyers' accolades didn't end with Crawford's superior performance, as DL sophomore Jess Stelter and 12 year-old Mathia Olds also qualified for the Region 4 meet.

"This is a big accomplishment for these girls and it's big for the club," said Flyers head trainer Sith Hansana. "This is good for Detroit Lakes and this will also help put us on the gymnastics map.

"These girls are leading the way and are setting a very good example for the younger gymnasts."

For Crawford -- who won the Class 1A state beam title earlier this spring -- it was her first season since seventh grade competing on the USAG level.

But there wasn't any rust, as she qualified for the state meet, then performed tops in the Level 9 Division, which is just one level lower than the top one of Level 10.

Crawford started her state meet well by marking a 9.025 beam score. She rolled through the meet, landing a 9.025 on vault, a 9.1 on bars and an 8.925 on floor.

The scores are impressive, in just that USAG judging is much more technical and more difficult than the high school judging.

"The big difference is scoring," Crawford said. "The meets are bigger and go faster, as well."

Hansana said scoring during USAG meets is much more rigid than high school, so routines have to be much more technical and cleaner.

"In high school, skills are more simple," Hansana said. "The USAG is a much higher level in skills. The Level 9-10's is where collegiate coaches scout, so this has been a great experience for Amy."

Crawford's original goal heading in the state meet was to surpass the regional all-around cut mark of 34.0.

But after hitting her beam early on in the meet, that momentum carried into her four other events.

She said trying to compare her state beam championship in high school and her USAG all-around title is impossible.

"They are two separate worlds," Crawford said. "They are different organizations and two different ways of scoring."

The toll of a long winter season during the gymnastics season, along with her extended time competing for the Flyers, has been a tiresome ordeal for Crawford, as well.

"It's hard on the body," Crawford said. "It's a long, extended season, but I just come to practice and do what the coach says."

If Crawford can make it through the Region 4 meet -- which has gymnasts from nine different state competing --   she will earn a spot in the Western National Championships, which are held in Des Moines, Iowa, this summer.

Stelter also will be making the trip south to Kansas City, after she placed fourth in all-around in the Level 8 Division for 15-plus year olds.

Her 35.35 all-around score earned her a Regional berth, since the cut was 34.0.

"You really have to work harder with each skill (in USAG) because everything counts," Stelter said. "I also have competed in the state (high school meet), so I was pretty used to the bigger meet atmosphere."

Stelter's key to her all-around score was winning the vault with a mark of 9.425.

She also scored a 9.25 on floor, an 8.925 on beam and a 7.75 on bars.

For Olds, she competed for the Flyers all winter and had a great season, which led up to her qualifying for state.

She also eclipsed the all-around cut mark of 34.0 with a 35.15 in the Level 8 -- 12 year old Division.

"I started the season well, then did just OK around midseason," Olds said. "Then I finished very well at the end of the season after fixing a few things."

Olds scored an 8.9 on vault as her top score, which was followed by and 8.825 on beam, an 8.725 on floor and an 8.7 on bars.

Olds has been a Flyer competitor for the last three years and started out as a Level 4 gymnast.

The Flyers had seven gymnasts in state, with four Level 7's competing, two Level 8's and one Level 9.

Those qualifying for state in Level 7 included Justine Lawrence, Peyton Jernberg, Morgan Eiter and Molly Lyngaas.

The MFG club is growing and becoming known as a top training center for gymnasts in Minnesota.

There were 63 gymnasts on the Flyers competitive teams.

The season ended on a high note with all Levels 4-8 winning team titles in the Grand Forks meet, along with Crawford winning the all-around championship.

"It was a clean sweep," Hansana said of the Grand Forks meet.

The Flyers have now made their statement as top contenders in the state of Minnesota.

But there is still more to come, possibly on a national scale, as well.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.