The Bemidji High gymnastics team starts its new year tonight, heading south to Little Falls to tackle the Flyers.
They took the opener here last year 124.225-123.6.
It was one of only two losses all winter for the gymnasts who ended 4-2 in duals and took sixth place at the section meet.
That was done with a team lacking any seniors and three freshmen among its top five scorers.
With everyone back, Bemidji is looking toward an improved campaign.
Bemidji raised its average score five points a meet and moved up one place at the sectional.
Don Papreck, who has guided most of the gymnasts since their early school days, returns fro his 12th season as head coach. But he has been on the staff for all 17 years of the program's history.
In his 11 seasons as head coach, ,he has never had a losing year posting a 66-20 record in dual matches.
Bemidji has had its share of top performers through the years but has never had the depth to challenge the top teams in the section.
It probably will not this winter either but would like to advance to challenge its best section finishes, fourth places in 2000 and 2007.
The team averaged 126.200 last winter, five better than in 2008. Its school record is 133. 578 in 2002, a team led by Rachel Nemgar and Kaitlin Marsolek.
But it topped 130 points in its final four starts last year and plans to start at that figure and move ahead this year.
Leading the returning veterans are seniors Rachel Bell and Katie Parker who will serve as captains.
Senor Amanda Sycks will be sidelined early this winter by back problems. She is also a captain.
They are joined by sophs Brooke Beck, Audrianna Goodwin, Katie Jensen, Nicole McDonald and Chelsey Anderson to complete the list of letter winners.
Back from the squad are soph Jenna Nei and freshman Alisha Moe. Three other JV performers did not return.
Six of the lettermen provided the bulk of the scoring last season led by Bell (394), Jensen (377) and McDonald (303) and including Beck (253) and Sycks (252). Parker was sixth with 81.
That sextet will likely carry the major load again this year with several of the younger gymnasts ready to step up into the starting cast if needed.
New to the squad this winter are Aerials Jessica Bergquist and Tiana Stinar, both sophomores, eighth grader Sara Erickson and seventh grader Amy Carey. They should provide much needed depth.
Dec. 4 at Little Falls 6:00
Dec.. 8 at SMA 6:00
Dec. 11 at Park Rapids 6:30
Dec. 15 Detroit Lakes 6:00
Dec. 19 Brainerd Invitational 11:00
Dec. 22 at Fargo South Inv. 5:00
Jan. 9 Park Rapids Inv. 11:00
Jan. 15 Alexandria Quad 6:00
Jan. 16 Moorhead Invitational 11:00
Jan. 23 at Apollo 12:00
Jan.26 at Perham 6:00
Feb. 4 Park Rapids 6:00
Feb. 6 at Detroit Lakes 11:00
Feb. 9 Perham 6:00
Feb. 12 at Fergus Falls 6:15
Feb. 20 Section 8A (Apollo) 4:00
Feb. 26 State meet, U of M TBA