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Set to make a stand

A Brainerd Warriors gymnast hasn’t stood on the podium as one of the top six finishers in a state meet for four years.

Maggie Freiday, in 2007, was the last Warriors podium finisher, placing fifth on vault.

That should change this weekend when Brainerd’s Katy Etterman and Mikayla Cerney compete in the Class 2A state meet.

Etterman will compete in the all-around competition while Cerney has qualified on the uneven bars.

“Her bars score is up there,” Warriors coach Dave Maras said of Etterman. “She’s going to be up against some of the best bar workers in the state. She definitely will be in the mix.

“My guess is she’s going to be in the mix in just about everything. You can’t predict, but I know she’s going to be in there. They know who she is, and that’s huge.

“I think it will be a great meet for her. She definitely has the skills to be a serious threat to any of the medalists in any event.”

A club gymnast until this season, Etterman won the all-around title in all eight dual meets in which Brainerd competed. She placed second in the overall Central Lakes Conference season standings in all-around and third in the CLC meet. She was the Section 8-2A all-around runner-up.

In addition, she won the Brainerd Invite all-around title, placed fifth at the Lakeville North Invite and second at the Park Invite.

Her average (for six meets) was 9.56 on vault, 9.63 on bars, 9.345 on beam, 9.583 on floor and 37.85 in all-around.

“On vault she’s got one of the better pike Yurchenkos around,” Maras said. “It’s as good as it can be. When she scores 9.65 on a 9.8 vault that doesn’t leave much margin for error. That vault is there.

“Her floor is dynamite. A lot depends on who’s judging. Her beam is just flat out solid.”

Cerney finished fourth in the section on bars and qualified for state by virtue of the third of nine tie-breaking criteria. The freshman finished 31st at state last season on floor exercise.

Her season average on bars (for six meets) is 8.6.

“All I care about is that she goes down there and hits her routine, that she walks away knowing she’s done everything she could,” Maras said. “Where that stacks up isn’t as important as her performance.”

LeBlanc in 1A meet

Little Falls freshman Rachelle LeBlanc will compete on floor exercise in her first state gymnastics meet following a third-place finish in the Section 8-1A meet. 

Her previous state experience was in track and field as a pole vaulter.

“Two years ago when we were in a section different than with Perham, Rachelle missed state by one placement in floor and all-around,” Flyers co-head coach Shelley LeBlanc said. “Last year we were put back into the same section as Perham and Detroit Lakes (two of the state’s top 1A schools) and the highest she placed was seventh. She was quite disappointed. However, her trip to state in pole vaulting took away that sting.”

Last summer LeBlanc suffered a high ankle sprain that prevented her from playing soccer in the fall and from participating in off-season gymnastics.

“She got very little ‘new trick’ time in the off-season,” Shelley LeBlanc said. “She had to work hard and quickly in the weeks before the season started. She works out at Granite City Gymnastics in their high school class in between sports seasons when she can fit it in.

“I really don’t know what the competition is like in other areas of the state. I do know that Perham has been the toughest team in 1A for the past nine years. Basing my thoughts on that, and the fact she tied for third against the best team in the state, I’d like to say she could be in the top 10 if she has a good day, maybe higher.”

MIKE BIALKA may be reached at or at 855-5861.

Becca Clemens
After graduating high school in 2004, I attended Central Lakes College in Staples, MN for 2 years where I got a diploma in Communication Art and Design. I then transfered up to Bemidji State University in, you guessed it, Bemidji, MN. In the spring of 2009, I graduated from BSU. Then in the fall of 2009 I got a job at Echo Publishing, a sister company to the Brainerd Dispatch.