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Perham battles with defending state champion, Detroit Lakes

Perham's Jada Olsen starts off her routine on the balance beam during their home dual meet with Detroit Lakes on Dec. 19. Jason Groth/FOCUS

Two of the premier programs in the state of Minnesota gymnastics squared off at the Hauer Gymnasium on Dec. 19. Once again, the defending state champion Detroit Lakes Lakers showed they are the standard bearer in the state, finishing with a team score of 147.825, while Perham ended with a score of 141.125.

The Yellowjackets continued to show improvement from their season-opening meet, finishing with their second highest score of the season, despite missing senior Sydney Bahls, who went out with an injury after the second rotation.

“We had some people step in like Dena (Fischer) and Maddie (Ruther), who both competed twice and did really well,” Perham’s Jada Olsen said. “They hit their routines and that was good. Almost everyone stayed on the beam except for me, sad to say. Overall, it went pretty well.”

Kassidy Kovar on bars.

Bahls competed on the vault and suffered a foot injury. She gutted it out and performed on the bars, however, was unable to finish out the meet due to the injury. Olsen said the team realized they needed to be clean and find a way to fill her shoes after her injury.

“She is one of our solid flippers. We need her on vault, she is definitely good on floor and beam,” Olsen said. “Beam is probably one of her stronger events. Having her gone next year, we are going to have to find people to fill those shoes.”

Olsen said they enjoy competing against Detroit Lakes and that their this a friendly rivalry between the two teams.

“Most of them are our friends. We have competed against them all before and have practiced with them,” Olsen said. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s one of those meets where you can just have fun. You try to hit and get a great score, good for you. It’s healthy competition.”

Mackenzie Rohloff on floor

Detroit Lakes’ Justin Lawrence was the all-around winner. She finished with a 37.60. Perham’s Jada Olsen was seconde with a 37.375, followed by Jackson Hegg in third at 36.75. Dena Fischer finished with a 35.35 for fourth place.

Olsen was the individual winner on the vault, finishing with a 9.60. The vault was Perham’s strongest event, finishing with a 36.25. Bahls recorded a 9.35, while Fischer finished with an 8.80. Jazzmin Branchaud finished with an 8.5, while Maddie Ruther recorded an 8.40.

Perham recorded a 34.85 on the bars. Olsen, the defending state champion on bars, finished first. She recorded a 9.60. Fischer finished with an 8.65, while Mackenzie Rohloff ended with an 8.40. Bahls ended with an 8.2, while Kassidy Kovar hit for a 7.50.

Fischer led the way for Perham on the beam. She finished with a score of 8.95. Olsen recorded an 8.7. Kovar finished with an 8.15, while Ruther ended with an 8.00. Stephanie Bernstetter closed out with a 7.40. Perham finished with a 33.8 on beam.

Perham closed strong with a 36.225 on the floor. Olsen led the way with a second place finish. She recorded a 9.475. Kovar finished with a 9.15 for Perham. Fischer earned an 8.95, Rohloff closed with an 8.65 as did Ruther.

“We have picked up since Jackie Mann. We have been five points higher the last two meets, which means we have been staying on the beam,” Olsen said. “If we keep getting our higher skills, getting our upgrades and start making them, we will have some tough competition and it should work out well for sections.”


Detroit Lakes 147.825, Perham 141.125


Justine Lawrence DL 37.6

Jada Olsen PER 37.375

Jackson Hegg DL 36.75

Dena Fischer PER 35.35


Jada Olsen PER 9.6

Lexi Yliniemi DL 9.6

Peyton Jernberg DL 9.5

Sydney Bahls PER 9.35

Justine Lawrence DL 9.35

Jackson Hegg DL 9.2

Dena Fischer PER 8.8

Jazzmin Branchaud PER 8.5

Maddie Ruther PER 8.4

Ellie Hultin DL 8.35


Jada Olsen PER 9.6

Justine Lawrence DL 9.35

Jackson Hegg DL 8.85

Ellie Hultin DL 8.8

Dena Fischer PER 8.65

Mackenzie Rohloff PER 8.4

Alexis Ostlie DL 8.25

Sydney Bahls PER 8.2

Kassidy Kovar PER 7.5

Jerzie Horner DL 7.4


Jackson Hegg DL 9.45

Justine Lawrence DL 9.45

Alexis Ostlie DL 9.25

Peyton Jernberg DL 9.05

Dena Fischer PER 8.95

Jada Olsen PER 8.7

Kassidy Kovar PER 8.15

Kennedy Hegg DL 8.1

Maddie Ruther PER 8.0

Stephanie Bernstetter PER 7.4


Lexi Yliniemi DL 9.625

Jada Olsen PER 9.475

Justine Lawrence DL 9.45

Peyton Jernberg DL 9.4

Jackson Hegg DL 9.25

Kassidy Kovar PER 9.15

Alexis Ostlie DL 9.1

Dena Fischer PER 8.95

Mackenzie Rohloff PER 8.65

Maddie Ruther PER 8.65

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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