Franzen focusing on final meet

Marie Franzen got a late start to her gymnastics career. In gymnastics, fourth grade is a late start. The Dickinson High gymnast, who attends high school at Dickinson Trinity, waited a year or two before diving in like the rest of her peers. Thou...

Marie Franzen
Press Photo by Dustin Monke Dickinson High gymnast Marie Franzen is second on her team in the all-around with an average of 36.192. Dickinson hosts the state meet, which starts today at DHS.

Marie Franzen got a late start to her gymnastics career. In gymnastics, fourth grade is a late start.

The Dickinson High gymnast, who attends high school at Dickinson Trinity, waited a year or two before diving in like the rest of her peers. Though it didn't help her then, it doesn't seem to matter much now.

"I can't say it hurt her," Dickinson coach Kent Van Ells said.

The senior is the Midgets' second-best all-around performer, taking her 36.192 average into today's state meet, which begins with team competition at 4 p.m. at Dickinson High School. Individual competition starts at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Franzen figures to play a big part in both, which will be the final meet of her career. She's the only senior on the team.


"I've had my best year to date," Franzen said. "This is the first year I've gotten a 36 and I've gotten it quite a few times."

It was a slow progression for Franzen until high school when she finally broke through and became a legitimate scorer for the Midgets. When she started competing on varsity as a seventh-grader, she hadn't developed like many of her teammates.

"She was very much a beginner competitor for high school," Van Ells said. "We had some small teams when she started out. She was thrust into competition at a level where, if it would have been the last couple of years, she would have been (junior varsity).

"Some people would have found it frustrating to be passed by younger kids on a regular basis, but she kept working and developing."

Franzen played a key part in the Midgets' state championships the past two years, the first of which came when she broke out as a sophomore.

"(That is) when I started to come up a little bit more and my tumbling was better," Franzen said. "I kind of came into my own."

Though Van Ells noted the jump her sophomore year, he said Franzen's scores since then have followed the same path.

"Strangely enough, she's made quite a jump this year from last year and when I say strangely, you don't expect that your senior year necessarily," Van Ells said. "I expect (seniors) to have a good year, but her average is up a full point, which is significant."


For Franzen, it all starts on the floor exercise where her score of 9.508 is seventh best in the state.

"I really like dancing my routine," Franzen said. "I just enjoy it overall."

Van Ells said Franzen's contribution is about more than just scores.

"Her value to the team has been that ... she's such a hard worker and such an inspiring person and a good person to have around," Van Ells said. "She has good values. The fact that she's become a good gymnast is an added plus. She's a true leader by example."

The Midgets are going to need Franzen to be at her best as they enter the state meet as the underdog to favored Minot, which boasts the state's highest average at 145.675.

Dickinson's average is 145.015 and Van Ells said Minot and Dickinson are the top two teams, though Midgets have to be considered behind Minot based on the Majettes' performance this season. Of the four meets they've been at together, Minot has won three of them.

"Minot has the edge and we're a solid second," Van Ells said.

In the past two years, Dickinson and Minot have had some interesting battles at the top, but Van Ells said both teams have reason to worry about the rest of the pack.


"It's possible where ... we could hit everything pretty good and end up third," Van Ells said. "Last year, Minot had a lot of trouble at the state meet, but they still managed second. If we have that much trouble, it could be third or fourth this year."

Individually, the situation is somewhat opposite than the team competition. The past few years have been wide open. However, Van Ells said there are a few favorites this year.

"(Minot sophomore) Brooklyn Bender in the vault," Van Ells said. "She's scored a lot higher than anybody else. There are a couple favorites in the past that we haven't had."

Dickinson sophomore Kelsey Dukart is the state's top gymnast on floor with a 9.708 average, though Van Ells said that doesn't necessarily mean she's a favorite in the event.

"Floor is so subjective," Van Ells said. "(But) that would be our closest to someone who is considered favored."

N.D. state gymnastics meet

At Dickinson High School gymnasium



Team Championship Day

Opening Ceremony, 3:45 p.m.

Begin Competition, 4 p.m.


Individual Champonships Day

Opening Ceremonies, 1:45 p.m.

Begin Competition, 2 p.m.



Adults -- $10 daily, $18 tournament pass

Students -- $5 daily, $8 tournament pass

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