Blue Jay junior high gymnasts are big producers, best friends

The Jamestown High School gymnastics team has six junior high athletes on its 16-person roster.

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Jamestown's Jozie Davis competes on the vault during a meet at the Gymnastics Club.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

JAMESTOWN — Outside of the Jamestown High School Gymnastics Club, one may doubt that six girls from four different schools, three different towns and two different grades could become best friends.

Inside the club, it's a different story.

"The best part of being in gymnastics is that your teammates will become your best friends, your coaches become another parent and the club ends up becoming your second home," eighth grader Lucy Falk said.

"I stay because the people here have been with me through it all," eighth grader Madelynn Nagel added. "Gymnastics is like a second home to me and everyone there is like family. I have tried other sports but none of them feel the same when it comes to the people or the growth."

Eighth graders Falk, Nagel, Emelia Cramer, Jasmine Houmann, Jozie Davis and seventh grader Baynx Kirschenmann have all been competing in gymnastics since their toddler years. The six middle schoolers make up 38% of the 2022-23 Blue Jay varsity roster.


"I think so many middle schoolers are on the team this year because we saw how successful the team has been in the past and wanted to be a part of it," Falk said. "I don’t think there would be as many if the older kids weren’t as welcoming as they are. If it wasn’t for all the teammates in higher classes, none of the eighth graders would be where they are today. They have really encouraged and taught us many gymnastics lessons and life lessons."

The gymnastics team has the most middle schoolers competing for the varsity team out of any other Jamestown High School winter sport.

The Blue Jay boys swimming and diving team has eight middle schoolers on the roster but not all compete at every meet. The 2022-23 girls wrestling team has three middle schoolers on the roster while the boys wrestling team and girls hockey squad each have one eighth grader officially rostered.

While some coaches might be unsure of a middle schooler's ability to produce on a varsity stage, head gymnastics coach Bre Carlson has reason to be confident in the six junior high gymnasts.

For one thing, the athletes have been in the gym for the better part of the decade.

"I got into gymnastics when I was 3 years old," Davis said. "My mom was a gymnast so she put me in it and I started competing when I was 7 years old. I stayed in gymnastics because I thought it was a really cool sport — yes, it is very hard and painful, but I love it."

"I have been going to gymnastics in Jamestown since I was 3," Houmann added. "It was natural for me to move to the high school team. I have stayed in gymnastics because I have made strong relationships with my teammates and coaches."

As of Feb. 14, Falk, Houmann and Davis have qualified for and will compete at the 2023 State Gymnastics Meet. Nagel also qualified but will not compete due to two fractured legs.


Houmann is in her second year competing for the Blue Jay varsity team.

"I did not expect to compete as a varsity athlete because I personally didn’t think I was good enough to compete at that level with the other gymnasts, (but) the team is very good at supporting others," Houmann said.

Houmann has been solid on the beam, averaging a score of 8.375. On her favorite event, floor, Houmann is averaging 8.750. On vault, she's consistently scoring in the mid to high 8s, for an average of 8.683.

Davis is one of the only members of the team who has competed for other Blue Jay varsity teams; this season marks her first year competing for the varsity gymnastics teams.

"It is harder than I imagined," Davis said.

It may be harder but Davis' scores don't seem to be suffering.

On floor, the eighth grader is ranked 30th in the state, with an average of 8.800, her best being a 9.100 scored on Jan. 27. She's also a firecracker on vault, averaging 8.892.

Falk is in her second year on the high school team, but last year she was strictly competing as a junior varsity athlete. Due to some improvements made in the offseason, Falk was moved to the varsity level to help the Blue Jays out on the beam.


"Being a varsity athlete is a lot less pressure than I thought," Falk said. "Growing up and watching the older girls compete, I always wanted to be in that position but was just scared of how much work they probably put in. Now that I’ve gotten to this level, I have realized that all of the pressure feels like a reward when you get to compete with your teammates and have fun."

Falk is averaging an 8.863 on beam which pins her as the 21st-best balancer in the state.

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Jamestown's Jasmine Houmann performs her floor routine during a recent meet at the Gymnastic's Club. John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
John M. Steiner

"Gymnastics is a very dedicated sport that takes up a lot of our time and we middle schoolers have worked very hard for a spot on this team," Nagel said. "I am so happy that I have been able to compete with these girls and can’t wait to continue making new memories with them."

While competing with juniors and seniors is a bit of a new experience for the middle schoolers, competing and making memories with each other have been run-of-the-mill stuff for a while.

"I have known Madelynn since preschool because we went to the same school, Mia has kind of been my shoulder to lean on throughout my whole gymnastics career." Falk said. "I have known her for as long as I can remember.

"Jazzy (Houmann) and I really got close about three years ago when we started competing at the same level," she added. "Jozie and I have started to get really close as this season has progressed but I have been friends with her since we started gymnastics together eight years ago."

Houmann and Kirschenmann are students at Barnes County North while Nagel attends Pingree-Buchanan. Cramer is a student at Jamestown's St. John's Academy. Davis and Falk are enrolled at Jamestown Middle School.

"My mom just brought me there and I fell in love," Kirschenmann said of her first time visiting the Gymnastics Club. "Competing with kids from different schools is fun because there’s no drama."


Kirschenmann is the only seventh grader on the Blue Jay roster and the jump to the varsity level has been a little more dramatic for her than it was for some of her eighth-grade counterparts.

"I was so used to being with people my age and this year I was competing with seniors," Kirschenmann said. "I handle the pressure of competing by pep talks and going over my routines in my head."

The support from her teammates doesn't hurt either.

"This is my first year competing on the team, varsity, and junior varsity," Nagel said. "I thought it was going to be very different. I thought there was going to be a lot of pressure because of how good some of the other varsity gymnastics teams are, but they showed I wasn’t beneath them.

"Anytime I felt the pressure was getting tough, the more experienced girls on the team showed great support and made it pretty easy to see the better side of things," she said. "They showed us we don’t have to always worry and to made sure we had fun."

The crew of eighth graders and the rest of the Blue Jay varsity squad will head to Dickinson for the West Region Meet on Friday. At last year's WDA meet, the Blue Jays placed second with a team score of 146.125.

Jamestown's best score this season was 143.050 scored against Wahpeton/Breckenridge on Jan. 27.

"We're excited for the rest of the year," Houmann said. "The coaches have made a huge impact on our team, they support us a lot and help us both physically and mentally. The team is very good at supporting others. It'll be a good rest of the season."

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 or by phone at 701-952-8460.
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