NEW ULM - With its first meet just around the corner, the New Ulm gymnastics team has been busy getting ready for another season. While the team will have a shortage of upperclassmen this year, head coach Ariel McFarland has been pleased with what she has been seeing so far.
"They're in good shape," McFarland said. "You never know what you're going to get when you come into a season and I have been pretty impressed so far."
McFarland is heading into her fourth year as head coach of the Eagles and is keeping a close eye on the young team. Only four of the 15-girl squad is a sophomore or older, a result of several graduating seniors last year.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm’s Emily Gulden is one of three captains this year for the Eagles.
Emily Gulden, the only competing senior, is poised to be a leader on the floor exercise. Gulden is also a team captain this year, a responsibility she is sharing with fellow senior Anna Johnson (team manager) and junior Allison Rosenhamer. Rosenhamer and teammate Michaela Howk are both being looked to for most events.
The top events for the Eagles are likely to be the balance beam and floor exercise. While they are also feeling strong about their vaulting, the uneven bars will likely be the event that offers the most room for improvement.
With so much young talent, McFarland is confident that she'll be leveraging many of the younger girls at the varsity level. Freshman Molly Klimek is expected to compete in many varsity events, a responsibility she's already taken on in seasons past. Junior Allison Lease will also be looked at to fill some open spots, and McFarland stated she's been looking at every girl as a potential varsity performer.
"We're working on filling spots right now, looking at the younger girls stepping up which is going really well so far," McFarland stated.
All of the returning girls have been busy working on new elements and perfecting their key skills and combinations. The team is expected to take itself to a higher level this year, as the practices have already shown strong promise.
The first meet for the Eagles will be on Tuesday, Dec. 3 in New Ulm against Jackson County Central.