Peterson takes over Magic’s helm
WELCOME — For the first time in more than three decades, there will be a new head coach teaching the sport of gymnastics on the equipment in Welcome.
Beraiah Peterson, a former club and high school standout, replaces legendary mentor LeeAnn Steen at the Martin County Area Magic’s gymnastics helm this winter.
“Honestly, I had no idea that I’m only the second head gymnastics coach in this program’s history,” said Peterson, who’s currently in her second year of teaching fifth grade in the Blue Earth Area school district.
Steen, the original coach of the Martin County West Mavericks program and later, the Magic — a sharing agreement between MCW and the Fairmont Cardinals, retired at the end of March after compiling a Hall of Fame coaching career over a 31-year span.
“I competed for her (Steen) during my senior season (2013-14), and also have been involved coaching with the Little Mavs program since high school,” said Peterson. “I’ve been working periodically with the high school gymnasts during the summer for the last four years, so it’s my sixth year overall with the youth programs.
“It’s cool to get the chance to coach them at this level. It’s nice to already be familiar with the girls’ skill levels coming in and their potential.”
After officially accepting the Magic’s head coaching job late last spring, Beraiah Peterson assembled a coaching staff consisting of Courtney Schultz, Blessing Reynolds and Brighton Peterson.
“My sister Blessing also has coached during the summer, so I know between that and competing back in the day, she has a lot of knowledge of the sport to share,” said Beraiah Peterson. “Courtney also has solid experience in coaching, while my brother Brighton will help mainly with spotting routines.”
Beraiah Peterson created an “open gym” environment during the first week of prep practice so she and her coaches could get an accurate evaluation of her talent-laden roster.
“We noticed this group has a strong work ethic, a positive vibe and amazing energy in the gym,” said Beraiah Peterson.
“We (coaching staff) would like to see more ‘stuffed’ beam routines, a buildup of confidence in their skills and more sticks by our first meet,” Peterson said in reference to the Magic’s season-opener against Windom Area at 6 p.m. Tuesday night in Welcome.
Peterson inherits a highly-skilled returning core, including a pair of 2019 Class A individual state qualifiers in junior Sabrina Segar and freshman Anna Bachenberg, when she makes her head coaching debut this winter.
“Sabrina and Anna B possess high skill levels on every piece, and have the potential to be our all-arounders again,” said Peterson.
Indeed. Segar placed 29th with a 9.3 in last season’s individual state floor exercise competition, while Bachenberg netted 32nd on the floor (9.15) and 43rd on the beam (8.25).
Segar, a two-time state individual qualifier, placed 5th in the 2019 Section 3 Meet’s all-around competition with a 33.8, while Bachenberg garnered the fourth overall all-around spot with a 34.15.
“In addition to Sabrina and Anna B, we’ve got a strong core of returners in Hailee Schuett, Anna Utermarck, Emma and Ellie Schultze in the competitive mix for varsity spots, while Abi Chavez has looked strong on the floor so far,” said Peterson.
Ellie Schultze competed on the vault, unevens and beam for the Magic at last season’s sectional, while Utermarck posted totals on the vault, beam and floor. Schuett produced scores on the beam and floor, Emma Schultze did likewise on the vault and floor, while Ellie Hernes adding scoring punch on the unevens. The Magic return 19 of their 20 sectional routines, with unevens specialist Gwen Kallemeyn making the transition from gymnastics to competitive dance this season.
“I’ve noticed that most high school meets in this area come down to the (uneven parallel) bars and beam,” said Peterson. “So we plan to work on a lot of those two events in order to be ready for our first couple of meets.”
Martin County Area plays host to sectional rival Jackson County Central in its second competition of the season — a 6 p.m. dual meet on Thursday in Welcome.