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Central gymnastics team returns familiar faces

Aberdeen Central gymnastics coach Mickey Everson, far right, talks to her team as they work on the uneven bars during practice. The Golden Eagles open the season by hosting Jamestown on Thursday. Photo by John Davis taken 11/23/2021

The Aberdeen Central gymnastics squad has some big goals this season and looks to have the pieces in place to make a run at them.

The Golden Eagles have three members returning who qualified for the state meet last season, another who is expected to make a major impact and a balanced group of freshmen to add quality depth.

“This group of kids is probably the best group of kids I’ve had in a long time,” said Central coach Mickey Everson. “This group of kids work well together. They all work hard. I think no matter what, it will be a good year whether we get those goals or not.”

The goals include chasing a team record for scoring and also qualifying the entire team for the state meet.

The Eagles, who open their season Thursday by hosting Jamestown, N.D., will be led by Ashlyn Beyer, Maggie Fites and Masyn Schutter.

Beyer is the lone senior on the team.

“She just provides good solidarity. She’s solid on everything. You always know what to expect out of her. It never wavers,” Everson said. “She is a very good leader for our team. You always know exactly what she’s going to do and she always lives up to it.”

Fites has the potential to score big points in a variety of events and competed in all of them at state a year ago.

“She came to us young and she has matured a lot. She is extremely talented in gymnastics,” Everson said. “She can throw the big stuff. She has the high level skills. She did qualify in all four events for us at state. I think she’ll be pretty solid for us with her upper level skills that are clean and perfected.”

Schutter brings energy and enthusiasm to the squad each time she shows up for practice and competition.

“She is our hardest worker. She’s the first one in the gym,” Everson said. “She’s just so dedicated and will do whatever it takes to get that skill. She’s one of those team members that you wish you could have like 10 of them.”

Put that trio together and it’s easy to see why there is plenty of excitement in the Central camp to start the season.

“Having those three solid girls just will be amazing for us, I think,” Everson said.

Johanna Jarrott will also be key a member of the squad. She battled through injuries last season, but showed what she is capable of doing.

“She has the greatest potential,” Everson said. “She also is a great leader and makes practice fun and exciting. She will do well for us, too.”

Then there are 10 freshmen of near equal ability the will make decision making a challenge for Everson on meet day.

She said all of them have the potential to contribute.

“When we get five on an event and I have to pick from the 16 girls, it’s going to be difficult,” she said. “It’s going to come down to who’s having the best day, I think.”

Central will once again be solid on floor exercise and vault.

However, like most teams, the Eagles will try to conquer the bars, which presents multiple challenges.

“Bars is probably our weakest event, but it’s probably everybody’s weakest event. It takes so much out of the girls. You have to be physically strong, mentally strong and work through ripping your hands apart,” Everson said. “That’s always a difficult one for us, but we are definitely trying to get more consistent with that and work that every single day in practice. No matter how much they rip their hands to shreds, they’re still on the bars.”

The beam will also be a work in progress, according to Everson.

“It’s going to be about being tight and staying on,” she noted. “One day we have a good beam day, they next day we might not. Our main focus this year will be to make those two weaker events stronger and consistent.”

Time will tell if the team will get their best score in Everson’s tenure or qualify for the state meet, but those are the goals that will be driving the girls each day in practice.

“Our main goal, we just barely missed it last year, is to make it to state as a team,” Everson said, noting that the task became more difficult this year with a new qualifying system that will take the top two teams from each region and then the next top six point finishers. “We’re going to do whatever we can to get that high score. That will be our goal.”

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