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Tom Mix, Published February 11 2013

Davies, Fargo gymnastics teams near full strength after enduring injury-plagued seasons


The North Dakota gymnastics postseason is right around the corner, and both the Fargo and Fargo Davies squads are looking to sustain late-season success.

Fargo, a co-op team from four Fargo high schools, is ranked seventh out of 11 teams in the state. Davies is ranked eighth.

Both squads have dealt with injuries this season, but Fargo is finally at full strength.

“We started off a little bit slow this season,” said Fargo head coach Mike Merritt, who also coaches Davies. “When you start out with lower scores, that puts you in a hole right away and then you have to work yourself up out of that. The last several meets have been very productive in terms of score.

“We got everyone back and healthy and hopefully we can keep pushing those scores up.”

The top eight teams with the highest team averages qualify for the state meet set for Feb. 22-23 in Valley City.

“As long as both teams qualify, that is all that counts,” Merritt said. “We always go into the state meet looking to maintain our current position or move up.”

Merritt likes Fargo’s chances at placing in the team competition, which is based on each team’s top four scorers.

Fargo is led by seniors Faith Marty and Tori Carroll and juniors Madie Uglem and Natasha Usselman.

Marty has the highest all-around average (36.192) on the team and is optimistic about the direction her team is headed.

“We have improved as the season has gone by,” Marty said. “Girls have come back from injuries, which has helped our scores.”

Fargo is coming off a first-place finish at the Jamestown invitational last week and along with Davies, will be competing in the Eastern Dakota Conference meet set for 5 p.m. Friday at American Gold Gymnastics.

Usselman, Carroll and Uglem have all battled injuries this season. Carroll missed her entire junior season due to an ACL injury.

“It has been a lot of hard work to get back into it,” Carroll said, who is ranked 13th individually in floor with a 9.100 average. “It’s been slow. There are some days where it is tougher, but I just push through it.”

Uglem also holds a 9.100 average in the floor and, like Carroll, has had to work hard to remain competing.

“I’ve had a few injuries this season, but I’m fighting though it and just trying to end the season on a high note,” Uglem said.

Usselman’s injuries limited her ability to compete in all events at the beginning of the season.

“I started off the season with some injuries,” Usselman said “I didn’t compete in anything except for bars and now I’m starting to get back into everything.”

Davies’ season has been plagued by injuries. Two of its top gymnasts – junior Kiara Bock and freshman Jenna Rieth – have suffered injuries that have kept them from competition entirely.

Rieth broke five bones in her foot three weeks ago and is done for the season.

Bock – the returning state champion in the beam – just got the OK from doctors last week to return from a lower leg injury.

Another beam title is what Bock is working toward. She is ranked No. 1 in the state with a 9.558 season average.

“So far at every meet that I have competed in, I have done exceptionally well in beam,” Bock said. “We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I can make some improvements on that. I would really like to win that event again.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562