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Perham gymnasts set for Section Championships

Perham's Jada Olsen competes on the balance beam during a recent meet. Briana Sanchez/Forum News Service.

The Perham Yellowjacket gymnastics team appears to be peaking at the right time. The Yellowjackets hope to build on their momentum from their best performance all season, when they captured the Winter Wonderland Meet in Minnetonka when they compete in the Section 8A Championships on Saturday at the Prairie Wind Middle School gymnasium.

“I am excited. I love hosting when we have sections. It’s just a fun atmosphere,” Perham head coach Jenna Kupferschmid said. “It’s always fun with the Detroit Lakes crowd and our crowd, along with the other teams. We pretty much fill the gym and it’s exciting.”

The Yellowjackets along with seven other teams hope to knock off the defending and No.1 ranked team, the Detroit Lakes Lakers. The Yellowjackets have stepped up their game, posting some of their season best scores when competing with the Lakers.

The Yellowjackets built on their score with a strong performance in Minnetonka on Feb. 11. The Yellowjackets posted a 144.35, which was their best score of the season. However, they left some points on the floor in that meet and they hope they can build off of that strong performance. Kupferschmid was unable to attend the meet, but was receiving play by play updates from assistant coach Mike Peterson. Kupferschmid is expecting and is due during the week of the section meet.

“They did okay, they had a few mistakes on floor and a couple of bars, so still getting a 144, one of their highest scores shows they can do even better than that,” Kupferschmid said. “Hopefully, we pull it all together at sections. I’m glad the scores have been going up-and-up. It shows that they are working hard.”

Sydney Bahls

Kupferschmid said the team’s goal on Saturday is to get their highest score of the season and to improve that score.

“Detroit Lakes will be really hard to beat, but in any sport your goal is to get to state,” Kupferschmid said. “That’s our long term goal. This sport is a very individual sport, so I know they will be working on getting there individually as well.”

Perham gymnast Sydney Bahls said they just need to do what they know how to do and to work hard during the week to get their skills perfected for the section meet. She said there is some added pressure, but they look forward to it having it at home.

“There might be a little bit more pressure because all of our home fans are here, but I feel that we will do better, because it is our own equipment,” Bahls said.

Bahls said they have raised their level and they compete up to the Lakers, instead of competing down when squaring off with them. The Yellowjackets have a close bond, which is something Bahls said makes the season more enjoyable.

Kupferschmid said at the beginning of the season that it would be a building year for the team, which it has been.

“The girls have impressed me more than I even imagined,” Kupferschmid said. “They have showed me how hard they are willing to work to get those higher scores. We started in the high 130’s, for our team is pretty low and now we are getting in the mid 140s, and they can get into the upper 140’s if they hit everything. I know that and they know that. This year, they have shown to work really hard and the younger ones have really stepped up, while the older ones have stepped and been leaders. I am proud of them, they have worked really hard.”

Carly Breitenfeldt

The Yellowjackets have been led by eighth grader Jada Olsen. She is one of the many younger members of the team that have stepped up into key varsity roles. Madison Ruther, Mackenzie Rohloff, Dena Fischer and Kassidy Kovar have filled in key spots as well.

“Sometimes, I forget how young Jada is, because of how good she is. This year she has pretty much led our team on every event and all-around,” Kupferschmid said. “For her to continue to be on top as an eighth grader is mind blowing. Then you have some of the seventh graders, who have never competed and for them to be competing varsity this year is good experience for them.”

The Yellowjackets have had strong seasons from Bahls, a junior, as well as senior Carly Breitenfeldt. They have continued to improve as the season as wore on as well. Junior Lindsey Soule has contributed during the season as well. It will be the final home meet for Breitenfeldt and Adrienne Meyer, the lone seniors on the team.

Madison Ruther

Joining the Lakers and the Yellowjackets on Saturday will be Fergus Falls, Morris Area, Alexandria, Big Stone, Park Rapids, Little Falls and Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Browerville.

The Section 8A Championships begin at 1 p.m. at the Prairie Wind Middle School gymnasium.

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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