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Gymnastics: East Ridge proud of depth despite losing two stars

East Ridge will miss state champion Megan Trollen (left) but still has a host of talented gymnasts in the fold this season such as Lexie Corcoran. (Photo by John Molene)

Replacing graduated seniors Megan Trollen and Wren Anderson, who finished first and second in the 2016 Minnesota state meet all-around last season, is an impossible task.

In addition to going 1-2 in the all-around, Trollen won the state balance beam and placed second in the floor exercise. Anderson, meanwhile, finished first in the floor exercise, was fourth on the uneven bars, seventh on the balance beam and eighth on the vault.

The dynamic duo also led East Ridge to a third-place finish in the Class 2A team event at state last season.

They were truly once-in-a-generation gymnasts.

“I think they’re irreplaceable really,” East Ridge head coach Chris Muras said. “They were great for the team. They were wonderful. You’ll have girls come in with the same sort of talent, but I don’t think you’ll ever get the same girls.”

Even with their graduation, the cupboard is far from bare for the East Ridge gymnasts this season.

“I think we have some depth this year still,” said Muras, in his third season coaching the Raptors. “And it’s a young team, so it’s good, because we can teach them a lot of new things. So it’s just putting routines together and getting them their new skills that they need to be up there in competition levels.”

Alyssa Chandler, Hannah Walker and Lexie Corcoran all return from last year’s section championship team. Joining them is Cassie Kahrer, who returns after sitting out with an injury last winter, and some talented newcomers.

“Cassie Kahrer is back from a stress fracture last year, so I hope she will be a strong force this year and I think she has the potential to be excellent,” Muras said.

“Lexie was learning some new things last year, and this year we’ve kind of put them all together so hopefully we can really get her moving at the right level she should be at.”

“Alyssa Chandler, doing great, learning some new things. We’ve got some new things on floor for her and working some new things on bars.”

“Hannah Walker, she’s been with the team since seventh grade, so it’s good to see her. She’s stepping up and getting some new skills and some bigger skills that are scary to her, but she’s doing them.”

“And then we have some depth with some new girls, so I’m hoping with the new girls, they’ll step up.”

The Raptors have a young team, with just one senior on the roster, Emily Chapek, who had back problems last season but looks healthy this season.

Floor and vault should be the top events for the Raptors, Muras said. “Beam will be really good; we’ve just got to put it together. The girls have some new series and some new elements that they’re throwing in, so it’s just being consistent and putting it together on beam.”

“I think we have lots of state contenders in this gym. It just depends on whether they can put it all together when it counts.”

East Ridge opens the season Dec. 8 at Forest Lake.