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Wolfpack gymnastics returns newcomers, veterans

Mandy Hafner is one of several veterans returning for the Park gymnastics team this season. Photo by John Molene

It will be a mixture of veterans and newcomers for the Park gymnastics team this season.

Seven gymnasts are back for the Wolfpack and will be joined by five newcomers.

Returning to the Wolfpack are veteran seniors Alena Abrahamson, Sydne Blahnik, juniors Mandy Hafner and Genny Tester, and sophomore Rachel Williamson.

"Hopefully we'll be stronger than we were last year," Park head coach Ali Flaata said. "That's what I'm anticipating. But you never know based on the other teams that we're competing against."

Hafner led Park last season in the section meet. She was sixth in the vault (9.275) and finished 11th in the all-around with a score of 34.150.

"She's made some improvements over the summer, so we hope to see some good things from her."

"Rachel Williamson has also made some amazing improvements over the summer and ramped up her routines," Flaata said.

A newcomer who should make a splash is junior Brenna Sommerland, who joins Park from the Great Northern club team. "She came out of Great Northern at level nine, so she's a very strong all-arounder for us and will probably be our top scorer this season," Flaata said.

Vault and floor should again be Park's strongest events, but Flaata believes the Wolfpack will also get a big boost on beam with the addition of Sommerland.

"We hope to send a couple of individuals to the state tournament at least," Flaata said. "We have a few in the game. I would say probably for sure Brenna and Mandy and Rachel."

State qualifying will be different this year for individuals. The top three section all-around finishers will qualify for state and will compete in each event. Also qualifying from the section will be the top three non all-around qualifiers in each event.

Flaata believes Sommerland can qualify for state in either the all-around or on beam, Hafner in vault and bars and Williamson on bars.

Park will also be aiming at a top score in the 140s.

"We haven't reached that since I've been the head coach," Flaata said. "So that's our goal for the season."

Park finished fifth in the Class 2A, Section 3 meet last season with a score of 133.625.

The Wolfpack open the season at home Thursday, Dec. 7, hosting Mounds View.