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Gymnastics '22-'23: Ten Southeast Minnesota gymnasts to watch this season

Once again, there are plenty of talented gymnasts in the area. But this year the pool of talent seems deeper than in year's past.

Section 1A Gymnastics
Winona/Cotter's Natayla Franz performs her vault routine during the Section 1A Championships on Feb. 12, 2022 at Winona Middle School.
Alex VandenHouten / Post Bulletin file photo
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Amber Roble, senior, Byron

The Byron senior is one of the more decorated gymnasts in the area. She placed second on the beam at the Class A meet as a sophomore and followed it with a junior season that saw her just miss capturing the Section 1A all-around title by .075. She’s looking for a third straight trip to state and has a bit of a chip on her shoulder after finishing eighth on the beam at state last year. She also finished 15th at state in the all-around.

Amber Roble had a hard time with how she performed at last year's Class A gymnastics state meet, but she channeled that energy into a positive for a young Byron squad.

Hannah Fritz, senior, Austin

Fritz had a strong junior season. She was a state-qualifier on beam and vault last year and seems keen to do even better for a Packers team that should contend for a Section 1A title. She placed fourth in the all-around at last year's section championships.

Section 1A Gymnastics
Byron's Lydia Evans performs on the uneven bars during the Section 1A Championship Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022 at Winona Middle School.
Alex VandenHouten / Post Bulletin

Lydia Evans, junior, Byron

Evans blossomed as a sophomore, punching her ticket to individual state as well as helping Byron reach team state for the first time since 1991 by delivering her highest all-around score at the Section 1A meet. She’s strong and fierce and it shows in her vault routine where she was the section runner-up behind Roble. Just a good all-around gymnast that is hungry to build off of the 21st place finish in the all-around at state last year.

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Natayla Franz, senior, Winona/Cotter

It feels like Franz has been competing for coach Brittney Steine and the Winhawks for over a decade now. She has been a consistent force for the Winhawks during her time, competing at three state meets. That included last year when she was one of five Winhawks (Natalya Franz, Makenna Schroeder, Pippa Serleth, Nevaeh Mitchell, and Jill Macon) to take part in the Class A state meet. Those four and Franz are all back, expecting for her and the Winhawks this season.

Chloe Fox, senior, Red Wing

The Red Wing senior was a state-qualifier on the vault and just missed out on qualifying for the floor exercise in the tough Section 4A. Fox ended up with a respectable 28th place finish on the vault at state a season ago. Overall, her improvement from the start to the end of the year was noticeable and is why she is expecting a big senior season.

Kiki Rodriguez, sophomore, Austin

Rodriguez is the defending Section 1A floor champion, just edging experienced gymnasts like Byron’s Roble and Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa Isabella Nisbit to claim the title. She kept that momentum going at state with an impressive 20th place finish on the floor exercise as just a freshman. Her and Fritz are one of the many reasons why the Packers expect to contend for a section title.

Eleanor Smith, eighth-grader, Kasson-Mantorville/Triton

It was a memorable seventh-grade year for Smith. She threw down a personal-best 8.975 on the beam to place second at the Section 1A meet and qualify for the state meet where she placed 33rd. She also placed seventh in the all-around at the Southeast Minnesota Conference championships.

Ava Fogarty, eighth-grader, Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa

Another talented middle-schooler, Fogarty placed 36th on the beam at the Class A state meet as just a seventh-grader last year. She placed sixth at the Section 1A championships and fifth at the SE Minnesota Conference championships. She is one of a number of young PIZM gymnasts that are ushering in a new era under first-year coach Angie Loomis after longtime coach Christ Templeton retired after 22 years.

Maddy Habberstad, senior, Century

Century coach Christina Jacobs is excited for Habberstad’s senior season. Habberstad placed 12th and 14th, respectively, in the all-around at the Section 1AA and Big Nine Conference championships. She also placed fifth on the beam at the section meet and is coming off a solid offseason that has her contending in a tough Big Nine and Section 1AA meet.

The Spartans, Panthers and Rockets are all enjoying the new gymnastics space at Friedell Middle School and are ready for another season of improvement.

Avery Augedahl, eighth-grader, Caledonia

The third talented eighth-grader on this list, Augedahl showed plenty of flashes last year for the Warriors. She earned all-SE Minnesota Conference honors after placing fourth in the all-around and beam at the conference championships. She and fellow eighth-grader Paizley Lange have the Caledonia program trending in the right direction.

Related Topics: GYMNASTICSBYRONPINE ISLANDROCHESTERWINONA AREAAUSTIN
Alex VandenHouten has been a sports reporter at the Post Bulletin since Sept. 2021. He loves to go hiking, biking, snowshoeing and just simply being outdoors with his wife Olivia. Readers can reach Alex at avandenhouten@postbulletin.com.
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