First-year Lakeland head gymnastics coach Haley Farrell had quite a balancing act to perform when she took the job to start the 2018-19 season.  

The former Great Northern Conference gymnast of the year was charged with not only coaching and coordinating this years team, but with keeping the program upright.

Low participation numbers and injuries threatened the existence of a team this season, but Farrell, a Lakeland alum, drew on her skills and her T-Bird passion and was able to rally a crew of resilient girls to compete in every event this year and by doing so she helped the program land on its feet in 2019.

Julie Neuberg, Anna Smith, Cameryn Teichmiller, Anna Thompson, and Sarah Thompson all competed at some point for the Thunderbirds this season and their admirable effort and commitment, rather than scores and finishes, were what made Farrell’s first season so gratifying.

“The girls were the biggest factor,” she said.  “They made my experience worth it.”

The Thunderbirds were 0-3 during the dual season but got strong performances from Neuberg and Sarah Thompson.

Neuberg had one first-place finish and two second-place finishes on the vault during the dual season.  Thompson was twice an all-around runner-up.

At the conference meet Neuberg took third on the vault to make the podium.

“Next year I am confident she could take vault to state if she continues to work,” said Farrell of Neuberg.

In addition to Neuberg, at the conference meet, Anna Thompson competed on the beam, vault and uneven bars, and Anna Smith and Cameryn Teichmiller competed on the uneven bars and the floor.

The Thunderbirds placed fifth as a team at the GNC meet with total a total score of 51.625. Medford won the small schools conference title with a score of 128.125.  

At sectionals the same line-up competed in their respective events and took seventh place with a total score of 59.05. Ashland won the sectional with a score of 132.75.

Getting a team through the season and to sectionals was the main goal for Lakeland this year and Farrell said she couldn’t have done it without a lot of help.

“It’s not easy, but I made it through with the help of a lot of wonderful people, including parents, high school staff, even some of my past gymnastics coaches from growing up.  I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do it without all of them,” said Farrell.

During the course of the season she was given further motivation to help keep the program going.

“I was able to watch a lot of middle school practices this season because we had the girls practicing in our gym with us and we have a lot of gymnasts who have great potential and could do awesome things for Lakeland gymnastics,” said Farrell. “So I am excited to see how the program grows in the next couple years.”

Thankfully, due to the effort of Farrell and her gymnasts, that future no longer hangs in the balance.

Jacob Friede may be reached at jacob@lakelandtimes.com or sports@lakelandtimes.com.