Packer gymnasts are flying high

Published 8:07 pm Monday, January 28, 2013

The Austin gymnastics team won its first ‘true team’ state meet for the first time in school history Saturday. Back row: Alecia Uskert, Ila Anderson, Abby Bickler and Cassidy Bawek; middle row: Abby Snater, Maddie Mullenbach and Logan Tischer; front row: Paige Raymond, Sela Fadness, Jennifer Boyle and Rachel Quandt. Not pictured: Carolyn Hackel. -- Rocky Hulne/

The Packer gymnasts are coming off a high and they’re hoping things only get better as they head down the final stretch of their season.

Austin took first in the Class ‘A’ ‘true team’ state meet for the first time in school history this past weekend and it was a performance to remember. The ‘true team’ meet included the top ten teams in the state.

The Austin gymnastics team took the podium after winning the Class 'A' 'true team' state title at Jackson County Central Saturday. -- Photo Provided

Austin junior Sela Fadness said she’s never seen her team, which was seeded third, so fired up and it had big impact on how the team performed.

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“The energy was the most we’ve had at any meet and that makes everybody’s routine a little better,” Fadness said. “Your skills are flying higher, your smile is brighter and your scores are better because of it. The whole team had a great day. If we learned anything, it’s that attitude brings great things.”

The Packers are hitting their stride at the right time. They will close out their dual season at Owatonna Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., then they will compete in the Big Nine Meet Feb. 9 at Mankato East at 10 a.m. and they will compete in the Section 1A meet in Byron Feb. 16 at 10 a.m.

The Packers will be a heavy favorite to get back to state as they took fifth place at state two of the past three years.

“There’s been some real improvement in the last two weeks,” Austin head coach Mark Raymond said. “We’ve gotten much more consistent on beam, our bar difficulty has gone up and on the floor we’ve done a nice job getting our intensity level back up. They’re doing everything I’ve asked and I’ll probably continue to ask up until the Thursday night before the state meet.”

Saturday’s performance certainly showed the Packers they belong with the state’s best. Austin finished ahead of Melrose, which won the Class ‘A’ state title last season, and New Prague, which is new to Class ‘A’ this season, and was been a consistent state qualifier when it was in Class ‘AA.’

“(Saturday) was the most competition we’ll go against all season,” Fadness said. “They all have high skills and to come out on top was amazing. It’s always fun to beat the state champs of last year. To get (Melrose) back after losing to them in a meet earlier and come out on top was a big honor. We’ll see them again this year and now we’re tied.”

While Raymond would like to beat the Huskies Tuesday night, he knows his team may be a little winded after Saturday’s big performance.

“We worked really hard to get ready for Saturday and emotionally it’ll be tough to get back up for Tuesday,” he said. “Our season doesn’t hinge on that meet. We’ll do our best to get ready and we’re not gonna throw anything that isn’t one hundred percent.”