SAUK RAPIDS -- The Bemidji High School gymnastics team matched its program record Saturday for the most gymnasts to qualify for the Class AA state meet in one season.
Three Lumberjacks -- Lauren Berg, Tatum Offerdahl and Mady Schmidt -- will represent the team at next week’s state championships in Champlin Park. The trio qualified individually at Saturday’s Section 8AA meet at Sauk Rapids-Rice.
BHS placed third as a team with a score of 143.9, finishing behind first-place Sartell’s 147.925 and St. Cloud Tech’s 145.525.
“Honestly, they did amazing,” head coach Briana Fleischhacker said. “They worked incredibly hard and we couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
Bemidji landed three gymnasts -- Berg, Offerdahl and Lauren Lundquist -- in the state meet for the first time ever last year. The team has hit that highwater mark for the second straight season, and this time, they’ll even have at least one gymnast in all four events.
“It’s incredible,” Fleischhacker said. “With the hard work and the effort that they’ve put in, it’s great to be sending three girls again and this year actually sending somebody on every single event. That’s new for us. We haven’t done that since I’ve been around, so I’m really excited for that too.”
The top three all-around gymnasts, plus the three next best finishers in each event who are not members of the section champion, all qualify for state. BHS has sent multiple competitors to state as individuals in each of the last four seasons.
Berg qualified for state in two events Saturday, something only Offerdahl had previously accomplished in program history when she competed in vault and uneven bars last season. Berg, a junior, placed second on vault (9.75) and fourth on balance beam (9.375) to secure state berths. She narrowly missed qualifying for the all-around competition, taking fourth with a 36.65.
Offerdahl punched her ticket to state by finishing fourth on uneven bars (9.175), and Schmidt clinched her’s by placing third on floor exercise (9.425).
“This year, our events that had been a challenge for us in the past are really picking up,” Fleischhacker said. “We have, not only solid competitors on all four events, but a solid overall lineup on every single event as well.”
Still only a junior, Offerdahl will make her fourth career trip to state. She first qualified as an eighth grader in 2018.
This season will mark Berg’s second go-around at state in as many years. Schmidt, a junior, will make her state debut.
“A lot of times, especially in our sport and in our section, which is one of the toughest sections in the state, it’s really hard to mentally be there and compete and feel confident in themselves. It’s the biggest hurdle for any gymnast,” Fleischhacker said. “For them to be able to go out there and perform under that pressure is just a testament to how strong they are mentally.”
The Class AA state meet is scheduled to take place Saturday, March 27, at Champlin Park High School. Gymnasts from Sections 4, 5, 6 and 7 will compete at 11:30 a.m., and those from Sections 1, 2, 3 and 8 will compete at 6 p.m.