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Lakers bust-out season could be a starting point

Laker Emma Disse performs a press on the balance beam during the MSHSL State Gymnastics Meet in Minneapolis. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

Mark the 2013-14 season down for the Detroit Lakes gymnastics team, since it could be the start of many good things to come for the Lakers.

The gorilla was yanked off the Lakers’ back with their clinching of the Section 8-1A championship, thus snapping an 11-year run by the Perham Yellowjackets.

 It was that meet win which defined the Lakers’ season, not necessarily the first state appearance in 12 years.

“There was more stress and pressure in that section meet than the state,” said DL head coach Steve Zamzo. “Once we got past that section meet, the state was a bonus.”

But that didn’t mean the Lakers approached the state meet with a lackadaisical attitude, instead they attacked it with fervor and finished third overall, just 1.125 of a point out of first-place Melrose’s score.

“That was our goal, to finish in the top three in state,” Zamzo said. “The girls were very consistent at state and we were basically one fall away from taking second place.”

The path to the state meet was taken by a variety of DL gymnasts, with depth proving to be a strength during the season.

The Lakers used up to eight different gymnasts on a consistent basis, with their usual all-around performers being freshman Molly Lyngaas and eighth grader Emma Disse, with both making state individually.

Lyngaas finished seventh overall in all-around, while Disse was 13th.

“I didn’t see as good a season from Molly as last year score-wise, but confidence-wise, she was much better,” Zamzo said. “She was just more consistent and we expected solid scores from her in each and every meet.

“I saw Emma as a young gun, she has a lot of spirit and attitude. It’s good to have that variety on your team.”

But the duo didn’t have to carry the Lakers, instead there were plenty of other elite gymnasts who boosted DL’s score.

Freshman Leah Chavez was a solid point-scorer on bars and vault, while being a top two beam performer for the junior varsity.

Junior Allison Berg was elite on vault and “picked up a lot of steam on floor this season”.

Each of Berg and Chavez qualified for state on vault, with former finishing third overall.

“Allison is a very powerful young lady and Leah provided good consistent scores,” Zamzo added.

Sophomore Jordyn Peterson is also one of those gymnasts who provide power and made her hay on beam and floor, but is also capable on bars and vault.

“(Freshman) Johanna Jernberg is great on floor and she moves so well and is flexible and fluid,” Zamzo said. “She is pretty to watch on floor.”

Freshman Thia Olds also returned from a past injury and provided top bars scores, while eighth grader Alexis Ostlie had a good year on beam, as did Cora Okeson.

Seventh grader Lexi Yliniemi busted out on vault and just missed making state by one place.

“Lexi is a powerhouse on vault,” Zamzo said.

The Lakers were also led by their upperclassmen who didn’t necessarily see a lot of varsity time, but provided valuable leadership for the young squad.

Juniors Hannah Okeson and Katie Crawford were always reliable to step up and provide good scores when called upon.

“Hannah was our top JV gymnast and Katie worked very hard on beam and could hop right in when we needed her,” the DL coach said. “If not for them, we could not have enjoyed as much success as we had this season.”

There also was a host of JV gymnasts who will be knocking on the door next season and pushing all the starters, which is only a good thing for the future of the Lakers.

The co-op between Frazee and Detroit Lakes in gymnastics also was successful, with Cassidy Ziegler being a leader in practice and showing good work ethic.

“Frazee should take some ownership of what we did this year, it was a positive experience having them aboard,” Zamzo said.

With a full slate back next season and in the near future, the Lakers are hoping the 2013-14 season is just a starting point for better things to come.

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