Owatonna enters Friday's state gymnastics meet as the No. 2 ranked team in the state. Coach Tom Smith is confident the team can bring home some hardware.

Smith told KRFO radio that the Huskies can place high with a "perfect" meet. He explained that means being consistent and getting the "little things" done. The Huskies start on the balance beam, like they did while winning the Section 1AA meet. Smith is looking for a 37 on the beam. The Huskies won that event with a 36.175 at the section. Staying on the beam is crucial. Each fall costs half of a point.

On the floor exercise, Smith says the team has to avoid extra steps at the end of passes. This week's practice on the uneven bars has been focused on the transition from one bar to the other.

Owatonna's strength is the vault, setting a school record this season. They scored 37.675 on the vault at the section meet. Smith says the team is "so solid. They know where they are in the air," adding its been an historic year on the vault.

Lakeville North is the top-ranked team in the state and has hit the 150-point mark. Owatonna's top score was 149.725. Defending state champ St. Cloud Tech is also in the field. AA competition begins at 6PM at the Sports Pavilion at the University of Minnesota. KRFO will air live reports throughout the evening. Coverage will include interviews with the gymnasts and score updates as they become available.

Most of Owatonna's gymnasts return from last year's squad, which finished in sixth place. Lone senior Emily An says this team has worked very hard every day and every hour and has added new skills since last season.

Junior Becca Olson, who won the all-around at sections, said it was "a really great day for me." She liked that the rotation started on the beam. She stuck her routine, which includes two back flips in a row, while recording her personal high score.

Sophomore Syd Kretlow says she is as excited, or even more, than last year's first state trip for OHS. The gymnasts were thrilled to have a big crowd cheering them on to the section title last week. The school held a sendoff this week for the gymnasts and the wrestling team, which qualified for next week's team tournament.

Smith says he knows it can be stressful, but works with the gymnasts to keep them relaxed. The Huskies have five gymnasts who will also compete in Saturday's individual meet.

The Big Nine is once again well represented at state with Austin and Mankato West in the Class A event, which begins at 11AM Friday.