DHS gymnastic clinches half of spots on First Team All-State
The Midgets’ winning season secured them their eighth and sixth consecutive state titles and WDA Championships respectively, capped off with five gymnasts being named to the All-State teams.
DICKINSON — The Dickinson High School gymnastics team cemented their legacy and dynastic dominance by setting a new state record for the most team state titles in history, further producing three individual state champions in 2023. Despite facing hurdles due to a string of injuries during the regular season, the young team showed their depth of talent at state and secured five spots on the All-State teams. With their entire all-state team returning for another season, the Midgets stand poised to go back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back...breath....to-back.
Dickinson now stands atop the record books with 17 state championships and in the process secured the North Dakota High School Coaches Association (NDHSCA) postseason awards with five of their eight state qualifying gymnasts being named to the All-State teams.
The youth of the athletes gives security to the Midgets’ dynasty, with the oldest of the five being junior Rylee Olson, followed by freshmen Aspen Roadarmel and Brooklyn Wariner and eighth graders Elizabeth Karsky and Reygan Strommen.
“I think with us having to deal with some of those injuries some girls, who typically are our number five, six or seven ended up being our three, four, five and that really helped them develop that competitiveness,” Casey Berry, DHS head coach, said. “It gave them some experience of being in those precious situations when they know that their score is probably going to count and that their individual performance is really important for the team.”
Olson gave her best performances when it mattered most to her team, winning gold in the team competition all-around at state. The best amplitude performance she gave on the day was on uneven bars, averaging an event-high 9.7. The effort of the junior team player was recognized by NDHSCA and was given the top spot of the first team. This is the first time Olson was named to an all-state team since her freshman year when she made the second team.
“It is like a repeated cycle. [My seniors] also had younger girls and the age difference is a big deal, so being able to be together and help each other out is a great thing to do and that is what I encourage the younger girls to do,” Olson said. “When I was younger I was okay, but was scared of everything. Now that I have more confidence and I have my teammates backing me up too, it's nice to also win some things too.”
Dickinson took half of the first team spots, including Olson, Karsky, Wariner and Strommen. Both Karsky and Strommen took state titles in vault and floor respectively. Karsky has now won three state titles in her very young career, winning the 2022 individual all-around and bars title. Wariner made an improvement from last season, previously being named to the second team all-state.
However for Strommen, it was a first — in receiving all-state recognition and a state title. On her individual floor routine she scored a 9.8 and two 9.65s to average a 9.7.
It was also another first for Roadarmel, who was left astonished when she stuck her landing into the record books with the state title on bars.
“I definitely was not expecting to go all the way to state. I even messed up my bar routine at state, I hit my feet on the ground and I was really nervous about that,” Roadarmel said. “When I heard the score and saw it on the screen it kind of hit me … I felt relieved, blessed and grateful for everything that everyone has done for me to get me to that point. Especially my team and my coach.”
A lacuna that prevented the Midgets from sweeping the state postseason awards, was fill and by numerous West Region programs, including NDHSCA gymnastics Coach of the Year going to Bismarck High Rachel Johnson, who coach Berry expressed greatly was well-deserved.
“We definitely have some competitive teams on the west side of the state. I think that is a testament to all of the programs and all of the coaching out here,” Berry said. “I think Rachel is fantastic, she is not just a really great coach, but she is also a really awesome human. You can just tell by the conversations that what is most important to her is all the kids and not just her kids.”
The Midgets program’s future looks bright with their entire all-state team returning for another season. And based on their ability to keep mentally ready leaves the question, who will show up next year?