Kenna Smith donned more bandages and tape than Brainerd Warriors uniform Thursday, March 4, at Brainerd High School.
Despite the extra accessories, the senior might be the healthiest Warrior in the gymnastics room as it looks more like an emergency room. Most of the girls had something wrapped with tape or carried a bag of ice. Some were issued both. Despite all the injuries, the Warriors came away with a 136.65-133.875 Central Lakes Conference victory over the Willmar Cardinals.
“It’s been a crazy couple of weeks,” Warrior head coach Tessa Poorker said. “We were down 28 routines on Monday in Fergus Falls. But we were able to pull together and hit a 137 and that’s a dream. It was a little bit of a challenge coming into the season having 28 kids because we had to have split practices. But now we’re so thankful we have 28 athletes to pull from and gain experience and earn varsity letters.
“We already have 10 new varsity letterwinners this year so it’s fun to see that.”
Smith has two sore ankles and has an elastic bandage around her thigh and stomach to keep her hip in place. The precautionary measures are just an afterthought now for Smith as she posted a first-place floor score of 9.4 and was second on balance beam with a 9.0. That and Maddy Sedlachek’s first-place all-around score of 35.15 helped Brainerd even its conference record at 3-3.
“My ankle is a little sore and I have to wrap the hips to keep those in place, but we’re pushing through,” Smith said. “It was a little tricky at first, but now that I’ve gotten used to it I don’t really notice it. I’m feeling better than I was at the beginning of the season, which is weird, but good. I finally have my body warmed up after taking a year off. We didn’t have summer practice so now it’s feeling good. I don’t think I’ll have any major injuries for the rest of the year.”
Smith said her beam warmups were good, which gave her the confidence to pull off her 9.0.
“I did have a little slip-up in the connective series, but I covered it up really well to get the extra points,” Smith said.
Floor has been the most consistent routine for Smith this season. Although the scores may not have reflected it throughout the season, Smith is excited to see how well it holds up in the Section 8-2A meet.
“The scores are always flexible, but I’m feeling very good about routines in both my events,” Smith said.
Smith will only focus on beam and floor for the section meet. Poorker said she is committed to that plan.
“She is definitely getting in her element right now,” Poorker said. “In the beginning of the season you could tell she was pushing through, but you could tell she was in pain. As a senior you kind of push those things aside a little bit because you know this is it. I’m just so proud of her leadership, being a captain and pushing through injuries.”
Sedlachek won the beam with a 9.15. She was second on floor with a 9.225, third on vault with an 8.85 and fourth on bars with a 7.925. The senior captain was thrust into all-around duties with Izzy Olson and Brenna Deason on injured reserve. Deason did try out the beam in the junior varsity portion of the dual.
“We do feel pressure to step it up with those two girls out of the lineup,” Smith said. “We do have a lot of depth on the team to pull from. We have girls doing events that they wouldn’t normally do and they are doing very well.
“That’s just going to help build confidence knowing we have people to pull from when we need it. They are ready to move up when we need them, too.”
Beam was a highlight for the Warriors who hit four of five routines without a fall. Brainerd scored 35.3 points compared to Willmar’s 32.025. Brainerd’s biggest point maker was floor, where it scored a 36.8. Anaka Schroeder placed fourth with a 9.1 followed by Meghan Wirtz in fifth at 9.075.
Schroeder was fourth on beam and Evi Helsene scored an 8.55. Despite a fall, Josie Harguth still produced an 8.5 score for sixth.
“We’re kind of looking at this year to set us up for next year, but we’re rewarding ourselves with what we’re doing now,” Poorker said. “This is tough. We’re used to the masks and stuff now, but now our bodies are getting banged up just from trying to go from zero to 60. We’re trying to tone it down a little bit. We have one more home meet for our parents and our seniors. We want to do well with that. Then we have some rest time before sections. Hopefully, we’ll be strong going into that meet.”
Brainerd 136.650, Willmar 133.875
Vault: 1-Lyndi Koosman (W) 9.25, 3-Maddy Sedlachek (Brd) 8.85, 5t-Kami Peterson (Brd) 8.55, 5t-Rachel Moore (Brd) 8.55, 5t-Sydney Jones (Brd) 8.55, 8-Ella Hannah (Brd) 8.5
Uneven parallel bars: 1-Koosman 8.6, 4-Sedlachek 7.925, 5-Kami Peterson 7.65, 6-Evi Helsene (Brd) 7.4, 8-Kayley Miles (Brd) 7.075, 9-Sydney Jones 7.025
Balance beam: 1-Sedlachek 9.15, 2-Smith 9.0, 4-Anaka Schroeder (Brd) 8.6, 5-Evi Helsene 8.55, 6-Josie Harguth (Brd) 8.5
Floor exercise: 1-Smith 9.4, 2-Sedlachek 9.225, 4-Schroeder 9.1, 5-Meghan Wirtz (Brd) 9.075, 7-Lauren Castle 8.850
All-around: 1-Sedlachek 35.15
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Warriors 136.65, Willmar 133.875
Key: Maddy Sedlachek scored a career-high 35.15 for first in the all-around.
Conf: Brd 3-3, Will 1-5.
Overall: Brd 3-5, Will 1-10.
Next: Brainerd hosts Moorhead 6 p.m. Monday, March 8.