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Gymnastics: Warriors hoping for a stress-free state experience

Three Brainerd Warriors will be competing in the Class 2A State gymnastics meet.

Gymnasts pose for a photo.
Brainerd's Meghan Wirth, left, Brenna Deason and Josie Harguth pose for a photo on the vault Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, at Brainerd High School.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — Jessica Lofrano-Larson should be beaming with pride Saturday, Feb. 19.

The first-year Brainerd Warriors head coach will have two athletes competing on beam at the Class 2A State Individual Competition starting at 11 a.m.

Junior Brenna Deason wrestled away the Section 8-2A championship from defending champion and teammate Josie Harguth.

Deason won the section beam with a 9.4. Harguth placed second with a 9.375.

“Beam at state is a whole kind of new ball game,” Lofrano-Larson said. “There’s a whole bunch of nerves that they’re not used to feeling. On beam, in particular, that can really affect you. Both Brenna and Josie are really good at staying calm under pressure. I know they’ll have a great day and really we’re there to enjoy ourselves and compete among the best gymnasts in Minnesota.”

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Last year, Harguth placed 29th at state on beam with an 8.75. This is her second year competing at state.

“Last year because of COVID-19 protocols, things were a lot different,” Lofrano-Larson said. “It was at a smaller venue. There wasn’t a full set of spectators. It felt more like a smaller meet — like what we’re used to. It didn’t have the grandeur of what a state meet usually has.

“I’m excited for Josie to experience that this year because she didn’t get to experience that last year. The state meet is always kind of the icing on the cake. The hard work has already been done. We’re going down to have fun for the weekend. It’s one last routine and whatever happens happens.”

Every one of their routines that they are doing is on the state caliber. A hit routine can definitely place high at the state meet for any of them.
Jessica Lofrano-Larson

Deason, who will be competing in her fourth state meet, also advanced in the vault. She scored a fourth-place 9.625 to advance.

“I think she was very disappointed in not making it on floor, but she channeled that frustration into one of the best vaults I’ve ever seen her do,” Lofrano-Larson said. “It’s going to be fun to have her vault and do beam this weekend. And really for her body to recover a little bit. She does have track coming up. She’s been dealing with some shin splints and some pain and it might be a little blessing in disguise that she doesn’t have to be tumbling right now.”

Last season, Deason placed fourth in the state on floor with a 9.5. She finished 23rd on vault with a 9.375.

“Brenna puts high expectations on herself, but she does have an incredible beam routine if it hits,” Lofrano-Larson said. “If she gets all of her connections it’s definitely right on top of the state. Then her vault is astounding, too. It’s really going to be who hits at the meet and who doesn’t.”

First-year state competitor Meghan Wirtz posted a sixth-place 9.275 to advance to state on floor.

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“The best part for that is she is going down with Josie and Brenna,” Lofrano-Larson said. “They’ve both been there and they’re all really good friends. I think that’s a big thing for her in that she has her friends by her side. The biggest thing that I’ve been trying to keep at the forefront is that the nerves and the stress were at sections. This is fun. This is just the icing on the cake. So just go and enjoy doing your routine on the big stage and really have fun with it.”

Lofrano-Larson has been trying hard to deflect the pressure of the state meet from her athletes, but despite the ‘we’re just happy to be here’ attitude, she knows her athletes belong on the big stage.

“My expectations are that we have a fun weekend and that they enjoy themselves,” Lofrano-Larson said. “But, every one of their routines that they are doing is on the state caliber. A hit routine can definitely place high at the state meet for any of them.

“I try to keep those thoughts to myself a little bit because I really do want them to see this as a fun weekend. The truth is any one of them could podium at state. It just depends on the day.”

State Gymnastics

Who: Brainerd’s Brenna Deason, Josie Harguth and Meghan Wirtz

What: Class 2A State Individual competition

When: Class 2A 11 a.m. Class 1A 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19

Where: Roy Wilkins Auditorium, St. Paul

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JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.

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