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Minnesota Flyers Gymnastics club sends record number to state meet

Minnesota Flyers gymnasts who are state-bound include (L to R) front: Kennedy Hegg, Cora Okeson, Alexis Yliniemi, Justine Lawrence and Peyton Jernberg. Back: Jackson Hegg, Natalie Nelmark, Alexis Ostlie, Emily Smith, Emma Disse, Molly Lyngaas and Johanna Jernberg. Brian Wierima/Tribune

The Minnesota Flyers Gymnastics optional teams will be sending a record 12 to the state USGA meet in St. Cloud Saturday.

The amount of gymnasts heading to the state meet is just another sign the MFG club is becoming one of the elite in the state.

“Every year we are trying to raise the standard here and this shows we have a top of the line gymnastics club,” said MFG head coach and Executive Director Sith Hansana. “We are producing some top-notch gymnasts and we are scoring as high as the Twin Cities clubs.”

The Flyers earned berths in the state meet on Levels 7, 8 and 9, which having all three levels represented is a first for the club, as well. Ages ranges from 11 to 14 years old.

Level 8 state gymnasts can make the Regional meet, while Level 9 can go as far as Nationals.

MFG has three Level 9 gymnasts in Molly eighth grader Molly Lyngaas, Peyton Jernberg and Justine Lawrence.

The trio has been scoring well over the required all-around mark of 34 and all three of their goals are to advance to the Regional meet.

Lyngaas is extending her season after qualifying for state during the high school season, but USGA scoring is a bit more stringent.

“I’m just looking forward to doing my best at state and am shooting for a 35,” Lyngaas said. “I can’t compare the two state meets, though.”

For Jernberg, her goals are similar.

“I want a no-fall meet and I’ve been scoring in the 33’s for most of the season, so a 34 would be nice (in state),” Jernberg said.

Lawrence said practicing for the USGA season is tough, but all the work is paying off.

“They are hard practices and you just have to stay tight during routines,” Lawrence said. “There are harder skills (in USGA).”

Last year, the Level 8 MFG team finished 12th out of 15 teams, but Hansana believes this year the gymnasts could nab much loftier places.

He would like to see at least one of his Level 9 gymnasts advance to Nationals, something which has not happened since Amy Crawford did it three years ago.

“Justine (Lawrence) has been scoring over 36-plus points and Molly is right up there, too,” Hansana said. “This year, though, we have a lot of depth on all the teams.”

To make the Regionals, gymnasts need to score a 34 or better in all-around, with the next meet in Missouri.

To make Nationals, only the top half of the Level 9 gymnasts qualify out of the Regionals.

The success generated out of MFG has been a big lift to the Laker high school team, as they have been rated as one of the top teams in the state for over the last decade.

This season, DL’s lineup consisted mostly of seventh and eighth graders, who gained their skills from training and competing for MFG.

“The high school coaches and I have a good relationship,” Hansana added. “The success of the club team benefits the high school program. We work well together.”

The 12 MFG state gymnasts include Kennedy and Jackson Hegg, Cora Okeson, Alexis Yliniemi, Lawrence, Johanna and Peyton Jernberg, Natalie Nelmark, Alexis Ostlie, Emily Smith, Emma Disse and Lyngaas.

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