PINE ISLAND, Minn. - The MSHSL State Gymnastics Meet is just a month away and Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa (PIZM) is setting the bar high. To understand how good this team is, it has won the last five conference championships and the previous four section titles.
This season has been anything but normal but PIZM is not willing to settle.
“Before (the) season, we didn’t get practices so we all came in kind of not knowing where we were, not knowing what routines we had so we all threw them together the first week,” Eliza Goplen said.
The rest is history. The PIZM gymnastics team is off to another fantastic start ranking third in Class A. Head Coach Chris Templeton says it took time to get back into the swing of things but they’re finally seeing signs of progress.
“They’re starting to get their confidence back and their skills,” he said. “They’re adding new things in just about daily it seems like and it’s been a really fun season so far.”
While many of the girls have practiced together for years, combining two schools into one team presents a unique set of challenges, which makes team chemistry all the more important. For Brynn Burkhalter, spending time with teammates is the highlight of her day.
“Being able to come into the gym after a long day of school, if it’s online or in-person, it’s really nice to see them. If you have a strong bond with the team and the coaches you can definitely see that the skills go a lot smoother.”
With the postseason in sight, the team is looking to capture another conference and section title before bringing home more new hardware at the end of March.
“The seniors really want to end on a good note and make their mark on the team,” Alivia Berg said. “We’ve been really driven to finish good this year and we really have the confidence and power to do it.”
“It would be a blast to go out with a bang,” Burkhalter added.
The next scheduled meet for PIZM is Feb. 26 against Byron.