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Yellowjackets ready for Mann Invitational

The 2017-18 gymnastics season kicks off with a bang for the Perham Yellowjackets. The Yellowjackets play host to the 14th annual Jackie Mann Gymnastics Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 2 at the Prairie Wind Middle School gymnasium.

This year’s invitational allows fans to get an early look at some of the state’s best teams. Defending Section 8A and Class A Champion, Detroit Lakes, returns to the event. They are the defending Jackie Mann champions as well. Detroit Lakes won last year’s invitational with a score of 147.85, while Melrose was second and Maple Grove finished third. Those three teams are back for this year’s event. Perham finished fifth overall with a score of 136.80.  The Lakers have won the last three Jackie Mann titles, while Perham was the last team to win the title back in 2013.

Detroit Lakes’ Cora Okeson and Perham’s Jada Olsen tied for the All-Around title in last year’s meet, finishing with a combined score of 37.25.

This year’s event will feature some of the top teams in the state. Cambridge-Isanti returns after finishing fourth in last year’s event. Also returning to the field will be Princeton, Minnetonka and Watertown/Mayer.

The Jackie Mann Invitational is one that both coaches and athletes look forward to. The first meet of the season is an early barometer of where they are at and they get some interesting feedback from the judges.

“This is a really unique meet where we get to have the judges talk to us and the other teams at the end of each event,” Perham head coach Jenna Kupferschmid said. “They tell us what requirements we are missing and what elements we need to add and what they are getting deducted on. I think our girls like it as well as the other teams. I know they really enjoy it. The judges really enjoy coming to this meet, too. They like to interact with the gymnasts as well. It’s a fun meet and we want to keep it going strong.”

The Yellowjackets have an experienced core back from last year’s section runner up team. Seniors Sydney Bahls, Lindsey Soule and Mikayla Jensen are back anchoring the squad. Dena Fischer and Maddie Ruther return with experience from last year’s team as well. Also, back is ninth grader Jada Olsen. Olsen hopes to build on a strong campaign. Last year, she was CO-champion on the bars with Melrose Area’s Madi Brinkman.

The Jackie Mann Invitational is set to begin at 12 noon at the Prairie Wind Middle School gymnasium with the march in. The competition begins at 12:15 p.m. with the first rotation. Perham opens the event on vault in the second rotation.

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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