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AUSTIN EDITION New coach is not really new at all

Raymond last coached the Packers three seasons ago

By Jason Feldman

jfeldman@postbulletin.com

It's been a while, but not long enough for Mark Raymond to forget how much he enjoyed coaching the Austin High gymnastics team.

"This is a different group," he said. "They're all brand new to me (as a coach)."

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Raymond last coached the Packers in the 2001-02 season, when they placed fourth in the Big Nine and had a state champion -- Amy Bickler -- in the floor exercise.

While this is Raymond's first opportunity to coach the girls on this year's team, he is somewhat familiar with their individual skills.

"I saw them perform a few times last year," he said, "and it's nice to have some of these girls back who have some good experience."

That group is headed by the Packers three seniors -- Whitney Johnson, Bethany Larson and Cassie Srock.

Johnson was Austin's top individual placer on a team that finished eighth at the Section One, Class AA meet. She placed 11th on the vault at the section meet with a score of 9.1.

"We get leadership in a lot of ways," Raymond said. "These girls have been involved in gymnastics together for a lot of years. It's a very tight group."

Junior Shannon Doyle and sophomore Amanda Holmen were two of Austin's top varsity competitors last season. Doyle and Srock are fresh off of appearances at last week's state Class A swimming and diving meet. Doyle earned all-state honors by placing sixth in the diving competition.

"Those girls who have had success hopefully will desire more and hopefully they'll work hard to accomplish that," Raymond said. "Going to a state meet is a great experience and hopefully they will bring that work ethic from swimming into the gym."

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Raymond said the Packers main goal early in the season is to stay healthy and build toward performing its best in the postseason.

"We're looking to build our scores as the season goes on," he said. "We want to work hard, stay healthy and make sure when it really counts that every girl who wants an opportunity to compete is ready."

ROSTER

Seniors -- Whitney Johnson, Bethany Larson, Cassie Srock. Juniors -- Caren Andresen, Shannon Doyle, Abbey Eckhoff. Sophomores -- Amanda Holmen, Mary Wagner, Vanessa Winsky. Freshmen -- Alcia; Joseph, Jessi Kominik, Stephanie Rodriguez, Jacqueline Srock. Eighth-grader -- Ingrid Baudler.

SCHEDULE

Dec. 2 -- at Mankato East (7 p.m.)

Dec. 6 -- at Waseca (6:30 p.m.)

Dec. 16 -- at Faribault (6:30 p.m.)

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Dec. 20 -- at Owatonna (6:30 p.m.)

Jan. 6 -- at Rochester John Marshall (6:30 p.m., at Gage Elementary School, Rochester)

Jan. 12 -- Mankato West (6:30 p.m.)

Jan. 14 -- at Northfield (2 p.m.)

Jan. 26 -- Rochester Century (6:30 p.m.)

Feb. 2 -- Winona (2 p.m.)

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