When the Faribault gymnastics team takes the floor — or the beam, bars or vault — for the first time competitively at this Saturday’s Austin Invitational, Falcon coach Larissa Rasmussen will be focused on much more than the number the judges spin around at the end of each routine.
Before the calendar flips to December, the scope is much more locked in to individual skill progression for a team that graduated a trio of seniors, including a pair that contributed heavily last year to the varsity team.
“Especially with floor and beam routines, when you haven’t done those for a long time — and those take about a minute or a minute and a half — and where you haven’t done more than 20 (so far), you’re still kind of iffy,” Rasmussen said. “It’s just getting out there and putting it in front of a crowd. We’re not really looking at scores and are just doing it for the experience.”
Rasmussen also said she plans to feature only gymnasts who have varsity experience Saturday, since they can draw on more than the first couple weeks of practice to produce a full compliment of routines.
But even those will be nowhere near finished products, with some exercises displaying watered down versions of the same moves that might be broken out in February, or maybe not possessing full dismounts at this point of the season.
“It might not be like full-strength routines and they won’t have all their upgrades ready, but we’re looking at just producing some routines,” Rasmussen said.
Leading Faribault onto the floor will be its trio of captains in senior Evie Wood, junior Lexi Bottke and junior Brianna Radatz, who finished in a three-way tie in preseason voting for the captain spots. The Falcons will also include senior Gabby Holland, sophomore Lauren McDonough, sophomore Hannah Merdan, sophomore Olivia Bolster and eighth-grader Morgan Borschert.
McDonough qualified as an individual for the state finals last year in the balance beam competition, and was the first Falcon to compete at state since 2016. This year, Rasmussen said she’s looking for McDonough to possibly add her floor routine to a potential state docket, in addition to improvements to both her vault and beam routines.
“She’s kind of been battling a couple non-serious injuries but just some soreness here and there, so she hasn’t been able to do a lot of big stuff,” Rasmussen said. “Really her thing is we want to upgrade her bar routine and her vault and as coaches feel she would be fine qualifying (for state) on floor and beam with the routine she has, it’s just whether or not she’s consistent with it.”