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Gymnastics: Lakers have sights set on another section title with huge roster

The Detroit Lakes gymnastics team has 36 girls on the roster as it aims to repeat as Section 8A champions in 2022-23.

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Detroit Lakes' Elsie Ratz celebrates her vault performance with the Laker reserves on Feb. 12, 2022 at the Section 8A championships at Lakeshirts Fieldhouse.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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DETROIT LAKES – The Detroit Lakes gymnastics team hopes to pick up where it left off at the end of last season.

The Lakers are back with a huge roster as one of the favorites to come out of Section 8A after clinching their 10th state berth a year ago. With familiar faces up and down the roster, Detroit Lakes could be in the driver’s seat for another impressive season.

“We definitely want to go to state as a team again,” senior Gabby Whitworth said. “Having our whole team there to support everyone, it’s just a great experience. Hopefully, we send the whole team down again and can come out of this season without regrets.”

Head coach Leesa Lindgaard has her most extensive roster yet. With 36 girls, the Lakers have options in all five events.

“I’m super excited for this season,” Lindgaard said. “We have a lot of girls on this team. We’re up to 36 with our managers. I think that’ll keep the kids competing and working hard. They’re going to do all they can do every single day at practice.”

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Whitworth and Jerzie Horner were both in the gym throughout the summer but are excited to be back for their final seasons with the whole team.

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Detroit Lakes' Ava Morrison competes on the uneven bars at Lakeshirts Fieldhouse on Feb. 12, 2022 at the Section 8A championships.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

“It’s refreshing to be back in the gym,” Whitworth said. “I did practice a little bit this summer, but being back with the team is great. It’s definitely a different experience being on a team this big. We haven’t had this many people ever. I think it’ll be good for our team this year to have those options.”

“Once (track and field) was over, I got back in the gym,” Horner said. “It’s really good to be with the team again. This is my sixth year with the high school team. We haven’t had a team this big before. It’s difficult for team bonding because there are so many of us. We have to split into two groups, which makes it hard to get to know them like we know the other girls.”

Only a few seniors graduated from the 2022-23 season, leaving little room for newcomers. However, Lindgaard encourages competition within the team.

“We have some new girls that popped up on our team that were in the club program,” Lindgaard said. “Some of those girls could potentially take up spots. I think we have a team that can push each other to really make ourselves competitive. Not only competitive with the other teams but also within ourselves. We just need to get a feel for what each girl is capable of doing early in the year so we can find a way to put out the best lineup. I’ve got my work cut out for me to get a lineup together for our team.”

Detroit Lakes, Perham and Melrose are the usual suspects at the top of Section 8A. While this year is no different, the Lakers feel like they’re in a prime spot to add another section championship.

Last year, Detroit Lakes won the Section 8A championship with a team score of 144.675. Melrose took second (142.95), while Perham finished third (141.75). Whitworth won the All-Around title, while Horner and Elsie Ratz qualified for state in individual events.

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The Detroit Lakes gymnastics team celebrates its section 8A championship at Lakeshirts Fieldhouse on Feb. 12, 2022. The Lakers are headed to the state tournament after posting a team score of 144.65.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

“I know Perham’s numbers are down. They only have like 10 kids, I think,” Lindgaard said. “Even with their numbers being down, they’re going to be competitive. Melrose will always bring a big team. They’re always competitive too. It’ll be good to see both of those teams early on at our second meet in Perham. We’ll be able to see what we need to do to be on top at the end of the year.”

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Detroit Lakes finished in sixth place at the Class A state meet a year ago with a score of 140.575. Watertown-Mayer-Mound Westonka won the state title with a score of 145.75. Lindgaard believes she has the guns to compete for the state’s top prize.

“I think with us going to state last year, they’re excited and want to be on top,” Lindgaard said. “They want to put another banner in the gym. I truly believe we have a great group of girls to do that and the talent to do that this year.”

DETROIT LAKES GYMNASTICS SCHEDULE

Dec. 1 vs Park Rapids, 6 p.m.

Dec. 3 at Perham, TBD

Dec. 6 at Fergus Falls, 6 p.m.

Dec. 12 vs. Perham 6 p.m.

Dec. 17 at Brainerd, 11 a.m.

Jan. 3 at Moorhead, 6 p.m.

Jan. 7 at Princeton, 12:15 p.m.

Jan. 12 at Perham, 6 p.m.

Jan. 14 at Lakeville North, 12 p.m.

Jan. 21 State True Team, TBD

Jan. 26 vs. Bemidji, 6 p.m.

Jan. 31 at Park Rapids, 6 p.m.

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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