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Laker gymnasts end Perham's 11-year Section championship reign

The 2013-14 Section 8-1A champion Detroit Lakes gymnastics team. The Lakers ended Perham's 11-year stranglehold on the section Saturday. BRIAN WIERIMA/DETROIT LAKES NEWSPAPERS1 / 5
Emma Disse was one of two Laker gymnasts who qualified individually in all-around, as she performs on floor Saturday during the Section 8-1A meet in Perham. 2 / 5
Laker gymnast Allison Berg performs on floor in front of a full-capacity crowd in Perham Saturday. Berg finished with a 9.25 score. BRIAN WIERIMA/DETROIT LAKES NEWSPAPERS3 / 5
The Laker gymnastics team, along with head coach Steve Zamzo and assistant Eve Dewar, react to Molly Lyngaas' bars score of 9.775 on bars, which basically clinched Detroit Lakes' first state team section championship in 11 years. BRIAN WIERIMA/DETROIT LAKES NEWSPAPERS4 / 5
The Laker gymnastics team cheers on Jordyn Peterson on floor during the Section 8-1A meet Saturday in Perham. BRIAN WIERIMA/DETROIT LAKES NEWSPAPERS5 / 5

       PERHAM -  This time, the Detroit Lakes gymnastics team was not denied.  

        After 11 years of reigning as the Section 8-1A champions, the No. 5 Perham Yellowjackets’ run in that capacity is over, after the No. 4 Detroit Lakes squad piled on 148.425 points to win the title Saturday in Perham.

        The gorilla on the Laker gymnastics program’s shoulders has finally been pried off.

        “I am sick and tired getting the red medals the last three years I’ve been on the team,” said freshman Leah Chavez. “This time, we earned the blue medals and it’s just amazing.”

        It was quite an up-and-down journey to those blue medals, though.

        An inconspicuous start to the Section meet for the Lakers, started with a disappointing 34.775 on beam, while Perham shined on floor with a 37.125 mark. DL’s Cora Okeson led the team on beam with an 8.85.

        “We dug ourselves a hole early and we talked about digging out of it and having to work at it,” said DL head coach Steve Zamzo. “They did just that and came after it.”

        It wasn’t the way the Laker gymnasts envisioned starting the meet off and they knew there was no room for error if they were to unseat the Yellowjackets.

        “We were thinking we had a lot of catching up to do,” said freshman Molly Lyngaas, who also qualified for state as an all-around performer. “We just couldn’t let it affect us the rest of the meet.”

        And it didn’t.    

        The Lakers stayed the course and blew the doors off on vault with five scores at 9.1 or better for an event mark of 38.35.

        The top three scores belonged to DL, as junior Allison Berg notched a 9.675, Chavez a 9.65 and Lyngaas coming in with a 9.6.

        All three also qualified for the state individual portion, as well.

        But the Lakers were not done smoking their 9.0 scores, as Alexis Yliniemi finished with a 9.425 and eighth grader Emma Disse a 9.1.

        “We all had some little tears of joy after the vault,” Disse said. “It was fun. After floor and vault, we knew we could do this.”

        The vault was followed by a solid floor score of 37.8, where Lyngaas and Disse each qualified for state individually with marks of 9.575 and 9.525. Disse also joined Lyngaas as an all-around state qualifier with a total score of 36.45, which placed her fourth overall.

        The floor scores were high for DL, as Jordyn Peterson hit a 9.45, Berg a 9.25 and Johanna Jernberg an 8.6.

        The championship clinching event came on bars, while Perham was on beam in the last rotation.

        The Lakers claimed a .5 of a point lead on Perham heading into the last event, after the Yellowjackets scored a 36.95 on bars and a 36.3 on vault.

        The finishing touches came, as DL collected 37.5 points on bars, as Perham recorded a 36.425 on beam, and ultimately fell short with a final tally of 146.8.

        Lyngaas capped the bars event with a personal best score of 9.775, while Disse joins her in state after a third-place finish with a 9.35. Chavez also nailed her routine with a 9.3 and Mathia Olds hit for a 9.075 and Berg an 8.75.

        “We knew we had to stay calm on bars and have nice, clean routines,” Lyngaas said. “It was nice to know we had four good scores before me, so it was easier to go out and do my routine and not worry about a big score.”

        In all, the Lakers will be sending two all-around gymnasts to state in Lyngaas and Disse – with both also on bars and floor – while having three on vault in Lyngaas, Berg and Chavez. 

        Little Falls’ Rachelle LeBlanc took top all-around honors with a 38.025.

        But the highlight will be a state-bound Laker team this year and it couldn’t have happened without overcoming some adversity from a slow start.

        “I am super excited for the girls, they worked extremely hard and glad to see them get their payoff,” Zamzo said.

        With the Laker gymnastics program producing numerous elite gymnasts over the last 11 years, none of them were able to make the state as a team.

        It’s a notion not going unnoticed by this young group of Lakers.

        “It just feels amazing,” Lyngaas added. “There have been many great gymnasts from Detroit Lakes who were not able to experience state as a team and we are going to be able to, it’s a great feeling.”

        The Class 1A state meet will be held at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion, with the team competition Friday and the individual meet Saturday. Both meets will start at 11 a.m. and run approximately until 2 p.m.  

Section 8-1A meet in Perham, Saturday, Feb. 15.


    Team results (*state qualifier): *Detroit Lakes 148.425, Perham 146.8, Alexandria 135.475, Fergus Falls 129.725, Little Falls 129.275, Long Prairie/Grey Eagle 119.2, Park Rapids 108.15.

     Individual state qualifiers (top 4) – Vault: 1. Allison Berg (DL) 9.675; 2. Leah Chavez (DL) 9.65; 3. Molly Lyngaas 9.6; 4. Rachelle LeBlanc (LF) 9.425…Bars: 1. Lyngaas (DL) 9.775; 2. LeBlanc (LF) 9.45; 3. Emma Disse (DL) 9.35; 4. Jordan Martinson (Perh) 9.35…Beam: 1. LeBlanc (LF) 9.525; 2. Hannah Wendel (Alex) 9.3; 3. Ashley Hokanson (Perh) 9.2; 4. Jordan Martinson (Perh) 9.2…Floor: 1. LeBlanc (LF) 9.625; 2. Lyngaas (DL) 9.575; 3. Disse (DL) 9.525; 4. Alexis Peichel (Perh) 9.5…All-around: 1. LeBlanc 38.025; 2. Lyngaas 37.675; 3. Wendel (Alex) 37.4; 4. Disse 36.45.

     DL event results (*state qualifier) – Bars: *1. Lyngaas 9.775; *3. Disse 9.35; Chavez 9.3; Mathia Olds 9.075; Allison Berg 8.75…Beam: Cora Okeson 8.85; Lyngaas 8.725; Alexis Ostlie 8.725; Disse 8.475; Jordyn Peterson 8.2…Floor: *2. Lyngaas 9.575; *3. Disse 9.525; Peterson 9.45; Allison Berg 9.25; Johanna Jernberg 8.6…Vault: *1. Berg 9.675; *2. Chavez 9.65; *3. Lyngaas 9.6; Alexis Yliniemi 9.425; Disse 9.1…All-around: *2. Lyngaas 37.675; *4. Disse 36.45. 

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