PREP NOTEBOOK: Dickinson High gymnasts looking strongDickinson High gymnastics coach Kent Van Ells looks at his team’s scores and can’t help but smile.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Dickinson High gymnastics coach Kent Van Ells looks at his team’s scores and can’t help but smile.
So far, everything seems to have gone right for the Midgets.
Dickinson has won all six team titles at meets it has attended. Although only the last four had more than two full teams in attendance, the Midgets won each of them handedly to establish a season average team score of 145.900 — 4.45 points ahead of the next-best team.
“We’ve met everybody in the state and we’ve come out ahead,” Van Ells said. “You can’t ask for more than that at this point.”
The Midgets will try to make it seven straight wins when they host the Dickinson Invitational at 11 a.m. Saturday.
A group of young ladies have been leading the way for the Midgets.
Seventh-grader Acacia Fossum, in her first season of varsity gymnastics, leads the state in the all-around, balance beam, floor exercise and vault.
However, right at her heels and second in the all-around, balance beam and floor exercise is freshman Mikaela Kessel.
“Floor is the one where those two have kind of stood out,” Van Ells said.
They are tied for the state’s best score with a 9.750, set on Jan. 14 in Wahpeton. Fossum, however, has an edge on Kessel in their three-meet high average, 9.682 to 9.633.
On the beam, Fossum has the high marks with a 9.800 and a 9.650 season average. Nevertheless, several of her teammates are right behind.
“Beam is unusual,” Van Ells said. “This year, it’s been really, really good for us.”
Van Ells said, of Dickinson’s top six girls on the beam, he has had only two falls this season — knock on wood.
“I hope I’m not jinxing it,” Van Ells said. “We’re past halfway, but I think we want to acknowledge the fact that the beam is strong.”
But it’s not the only area the Midgets have stood out as a team.
They have six of the state’s top 10 on the vault and four of the top 10 in the floor exercise.
The only event the Midgets don’t have a stranglehold on is the uneven bars, where Fossum is second with an average of 9.467. Bismarck Century junior Jennifer Albers has the season-high (9.750) and high average (9.592).
Despite being one of the team’s youngest members, Van Ells said Fossum has established herself as a standout and someone who has a competitive edge beyond her years.
“She fits right in,” Van Ells said. “You don’t think of her as a seventh-grader. Mature-wise, that doesn’t seem to be affecting her.”
Midgets 2-for-2 without Hanstad, but face test in No. 1 Century
Life without Joe Hanstad has, so far, been exciting for the Dickinson High boys basketball team. In the first two games without their senior captain and the state’s leading scorer, the Midgets have two three-point victories.
Those results have two different meanings to head coach John Wilson.
“I was really hoping and really believed that we wouldn’t, honestly, step back too far offensively,” Wilson said. “We’ve got kids that can come in and score. We’ve got numbers out there. Our biggest concern with losing Joe — after our last two games — is defensively, we’ve got to get better.”
The Midgets held off Belcourt 87-84 on Friday, Jan. 21 and beat Mandan 67-64 in overtime the next night.
Tonight, however, Dickinson (6-3, 4-3 West) faces its toughest test yet in No. 2-ranked Bismarck Century (9-1, 7-1 West), one of Class A’s tallest teams.
Dickinson’s biggest guy on the floor will be 6-foot-3 senior forward Nate Moody.
Because of the team’s obvious shortcomings, Wilson said Dickinson will have to rely on its speed to push the tempo of games.
“We figure we’ve got to get after everybody,” Wilson said. “We’ve got guys that we’re going to have to play. Because we have to play them, we’ve got to keep guys coming in fresh. We did want to put more pressure on defensively and offensively, pushing our transition to hopefully find different ways for us to create layups and easy, early offense.”