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Prep Focus: Krall carries confidence for Kernels' gymnasts

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Mitchell's Maria Krall performs on the balance beam during the Jill McCormick Invitational in December at Mitchell High School. (Matt Gade / Republic)2 / 2

Maria Krall has already shown she's a talented high school gymnast.

But during this, her junior season, Krall has shown she has the confidence to lead the way for the Mitchell gymnastics team, as well.

"I feel like Maria is just more comfortable in her role as a leader on the team. She's confident, doesn't question her abilities as much," Mitchell coach Audra Rew said. "Every year, she just gets more confident and that makes everything a little smoother for her, as well."

In eight competitions this season, Krall has been among the top-three all-around finishers seven times. That includes back-to-back all-around titles at the Brookings Invitational Jan. 6 and the Mitchell Quadrangular Jan. 8, in which she scored a season-best 37.650.

"You just want to be strong and you want to lead the way," Krall said this week. "You don't want to complicate things and you want to simplify the routines as much as possible. If I do what I know how to do and help our team, we're going to be in a good spot."

On Friday, Krall was second at the Huron Invitational in the all-around behind Watertown's Myah Morris, who is one of the state's top gymnasts. But the Kernel had her best floor routine of the season (9.55) and won the individual balance beam competition, scoring a season-best 9.7.

Krall is one of many Kernels who have benefitted from perfecting more difficult skills in her routine but Rew said there's always a balance between being aggressive and making sure the routine is clean.

"They've been working on these skills for years. But sometimes hitting it will only add two-tenths to your score," Rew said. "Maria is smart enough to know that doing the harder skill isn't always it over doing it clean and simple."

Rew said the importance of having veteran leadership in Krall and senior Bailey Roden makes a key difference in keeping Mitchell at the top of Class AA gymnastics.

"I think having the younger gymnasts to mentor has made her step up," Rew said. "She's always had someone older than her and she's able to see that the younger kids have needs and she can step in there and guide them, because they're looking to her, whether to be excited or nervous."

Krall said she feels her individual success helps the team and the Kernels performing well as a team helps her when she's on her own, as well.

"I feel like I'm more positive and calm. I've done a better job of controlling my emotions," Krall said. "We want to hit our events and give 110 percent every time we get a chance."

Mitchell will compete Saturday in Watertown — the site of this year's state meet — and Krall said the team will continue to come together ahead of another state run.

"At the start of the year, we had a new team and it was about coming together and working together," she said. "Now, we're doing awesome and we're very close."