2016 Gymnastics Season Preview

Posted on January 8th, 2016 by

ST. PETER, Minn. – It is the beginning of a new season and with the fresh start the Gustavus gymnastics team has its eyes set on making big strides forward. The Gusties know they can’t affect the scoring of their opponents in a competitive Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, so they plan on keeping the focus on themselves to improve every day.

Head Coach Aryn Bell enters her second season at the helm and with a year under her belt, the former Gustie gymnast is getting more comfortable in her position.

“Last year was a whirlwind in my first year,” Bell said. “This year it is a lot more controlled and the team is responding well to that.”

The gymnastics team has set a few goals before its first meet of the season tomorrow against UW-Oshkosh, but the goals will continue to evolve throughout the course of the season.

“We have certain score goals that we want to hit,” Bell said. “We want to drastically increase from last year. The team met its goal last year and now they are getting a little loftier with their goals and trying to push themselves higher. The team sets individual goals and team goals before each meet. The team knows what the coaches’ expectations are of them, but we as coaches found it works better if the team sets their own goals. Last year our goal was to not score below 170. This year our goal is to not score below 175.”

In order to reach their goals, the Gusties will rely on the leadership of the three junior captains – Alex Kopp (Wayzata, Minn.), Jessica Niedermayer (New Prague, Minn.) and Lauren Kershner (Marine, Ill.). Last season, Kopp and Kershner were the team’s top performers in the all around, averaging 36.535 and 35.583 points, respectively. Niedermayer competed on the bars and beam, averaging 8.003 points on the bars and 8.533 points on the beam.

“Especially tomorrow for the first meet, those three are the ones the freshman need to look to find out what’s going on,” Bell said. “It’s their job to stay cool, calm and collected. As nervous as they may be, they can’t let that get to them and it can’t change their demeanor because that will affect the whole team. We also expect our two seniors, Rachel Dargis (Bloomington, Minn.) and Rachel Thiner (Sioux Falls, S.D.), to have the same attitude and the same understanding of their roles.”

The Gusties lost four seniors to graduation from last season’s squad, but have gained eight new first-year student-athletes who are expected to push the entire team to improve.

“For the first time in a long time, they have to compete for spots,” Bell said of the team’s lineup. “The past couple years we have just had to fill spots with whoever was available. The first few meets we will be figuring out who deserves a spot in the lineup. But everybody wants what’s best for the team and they act very much like a unit. This year the team is building off each other and pushing each other to be better.”

Gustavus has finished eighth out of eight at the WIAC Championships in each of the past five seasons, but Coach Bell and her squad are hoping to shock their opponents this year.

“We are working hard to improve, to contend with other teams this year and maybe put a scare in them,” Bell said. “We shocked some people last year and we are hoping to do that even more this year. My goal at the end of the year is to finish seventh or higher at the conference meet. There’s nothing we can do to affect the other teams, we can only focus on ourselves and what we can do to beat other teams.”

The Gusties kick off their 2016 campaign tomorrow with a home meet against UW-Oshkosh. The meet, held at the Sponberg Gymnastics Studio, begins at 1 p.m.

2016 Gustavus Gymnastics Roster

2016 Gustavus Gymnastics Schedule


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