Young gymnasts reach their goals as they head into second season

by Samantha Lefebvre
Sports Writer

Anoka’s gymnastic team reached their season goal of scoring over 100 in a dual meet when they faced Coon Rapids on Feb. 3 at Twin Cities Twisters in Champlin.

The four-gymnast Tornado team, however, was no match for the full roster Cardinals team and Coon Rapids came away with a 14 point victory with a score of 114.350-100.425.

Anoka eigth grader Megan Merschman flawlessly executes her routine on the beam, earning her a first place finish in the event in the dual meet against Coon Rapids on Feb. 3. Photo by Samantha Lefebvre

“It was a really fun meet and the girls did really great,” Coon Rapids coach Becki Bahnson said. “It was a home meet and lots more fans came so they were hyped up and had a lot of fun while they were doing it.”

Both teams contain young gymnasts, but half of Anoka’s small team is made up of middle school athletes.

“I’ve got a really young team. I’ve got a seventh grader, an eighth grader, a ninth grader and a junior,” Anoka coach Jackie Deiley said. “We’ve got a lot of beginners and they work really hard in the gym and they keep improving each week. So as a coach there is not much more you can really ask for than kids who give 110 percent all the time.”

The Tornadoes goal all season was to get a score over 100 and they finally accomplished that goal in their final dual meet of the season. The closest they got to a score of 100 was when they took on Centennial and came away with a score of 97.1.

“I’m really proud. This is the best they have looked all season,” Deiley said. “They keep improving. It was a good meet for us and I’m so proud.”

Coming out on top for the Tornadoes was eighth grader Megan Merschman who placed first on the beam with a score of 7.800. She also received second place on the floor and all around, with scores of 7.900 and 30.125 respectively.

Coming in first place for the Cardinals was senior Shana Sipe with a score of 30.350 in the all around category. Sipe was the only senior gymnast at the meet. She is the captain this year for the Cardinals and has been on the team for six years.

“She got injured in our first meet so she was out for a few meets, but came back really strong and has been working hard these last few weeks to be the best she can be for the end of the season,” Bahnson said.

Sipe also took first place on the vault and bars with a score of 8.250 and 7.725, respectively.

Coon Rapids senior Shana Sipe performs her routine on the beam. Sipe placed first in the all around category of the meet with a score of 30.350. Photo by Samantha Lefebvre

This is Bahnson’s first year as coach for the Cardinals. Her father Steve Beckman and her brother Ben Beckman are assistant coaches along with Kara Bethke.

“I was with Becki when she was little in gymnastics, so I know the tricks and what they judges look for and how they score,” said Steve Beckman, who was a gymnast himself for Coon Rapids back in 1973-75. “I am a real stickler on form and the girls hate that.”

Bahnson said it has been great coaching the girls this year alongside her father.

“Yeah having a male spot is always really nice,” Bahnson said. “Just having him teach front handsprings on vault and the things that require more lifting it is nice to have a male spotter.”

The Cardinals team is made up of 12 gymnasts, nine of which are in ninth grade and under, including one seventh grader. This season there are also seven new girls on the team that never did gymnastics until this year.

“It is a young team, so there will be a lot of years of progression of better gymnasts,” Bahnson said. “It is nice that it is a young team so I get to go with them over the years.”

Both the Cardinals and the Tornadoes plan on continuing to work on their individual and team goals right up until the Section 7AA tournament, which starts Feb. 17. [smooth=id:510]