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Blue Jay gymnasts, coaches motivated and excited this season

The Jamestown High School gymnastics team is set to kick off its season on Dec. 1.

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Jamestown's Sydney Fisher gets some cheers from teammates on the edge of the carpet during her floor routine on Feb. 10, 2022, at the Gymnastics Club. The teammates, from left, are Lydia Stoterau, Allysah Larson, Emma Hillerud, Julia Skari and Jasmine Houmann.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN — Newly appointed Jamestown High School head gymnastics coach Bre Carlson has Andrea Bitz to thank for her sudden career change.

"I did gymnastics up until eighth grade and then kind of decided it just wasn't for me but then in college (Bitz) got me back into coaching and I've been doing it ever since," Carlson said. "Now, somehow I am the head coach and executive director. It's definitely exciting."

Carlson and the Blue Jays began practices on Nov. 21 and are slated to open the season on Thursday with a home meet against Aberdeen Central. The meet is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at the Jamestown Gymnastics Club.

"It's looking pretty good," Carlson said of the team. "Our kids are really excited and motivated right now. There's a good energy in the gym."

This season marks Carlson's first year as a head coach and only her second as a coach at the high school level. Carlson served as Bitz's assistant coach last season and after Bitz moved to Fargo, she was a natural selection for the third head coach in three years.

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After taking some time off from gymnastics, former Blue Jay gymnast Ashley (Kronebusch) Hochhalter is back. Hochhalter has assumed the role as Carlson's assistant coach this year.

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Jamestown's Emma Hillerud competes in the floor routine Feb. 10, 2022, at the Gymnastics Club.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

"I had to step in and fill (Bitz's) shoes and the girls and I are really excited to have (Hochhalter) back this year," Carlson said. "(Hochhalter's) been coaching some of them for a long time and will be a big asset for us. We're excited."

Carlson and Hochhalter aren't the only ones who have had to step up.

The Jays lost multi-time state placer Haley Nelson to graduation last spring.

Nelson won the 2022 West Regional Meet, finishing out her prep gymnastics career as the all-around, floor exercise and uneven bar champion. Nelson scored an overall score of 38.275 and a 9.7 on floor and bars. She was named the 2022 West Region Athlete of the Year.

A week later, Nelson rattled off four scores all 9.250 or higher. Her biggest score of the day came on her signature event, floor exercise, where she tumbled her way to a 9.767, placing her second behind Karina Olson of Valley City who won the event with a 9.817.

Nelson won the 2022 NDHSCA Outstanding Senior Athlete of the Year Award at the conclusion of the state meet.

"Our underclassmen have really been committed this summer and fall and I think they have really stepped up to try and fill that gap," Carlson said. "I am excited to see how this team works together to achieve their goals. They've got some really good relationships and they are really good at building each other up and encouraging one another. That team aspect is really fun to see."

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Blair Arbuckle, Emma Hillerud and Sydney Fisher are the three seniors who will be returning to the gym for their final season in a Blue Jay leotard. Allysah Larson is going to return for another go at a state placer finish. Lydia Stoterau will be back as well despite having gone through three knee surgeries.

Carlson tagged Julia Skari as one of the Jays' other "powerhouses." The freshman has been a state placer at the last two state gymnastics meets.

Arbuckle, Hillerud and Skari were all named to the 2022 All-State gymnastics team.

The new head coach said the Jays are predicted to be strong on floor, beam and said there will be major improvements when it comes to bars.

"This was supposed to be a part-time job and now it's my life," Carlson said. "We'll see how the year goes but I am excited."

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Jamestown's Julia Skari competes on the uneven bars this year at the Gymnastics Club. Skari was one of four Jamestown High School gymnasts earning All-State honors last season.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Related Topics: JAMESTOWN BLUE JAYSJAMESTOWN HIGH SCHOOLPREP SPORTSBLUE JAYS GYMNASTICS
Katie Ringer is a sports reporter for the Jamestown Sun. Katie joined the Sun staff in the summer of 2019 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a degree in journalism. She can be reached by email at kringer@jamestownsun.com or by phone at 701-952-8460.
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