By Ryan Kaczmarski
The Greater Cleveland gymnastics world congregated at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School on Saturday for the annual Rock-n-Roll Classic. More than 40 high schools were represented in the meet, including Bay, Westlake, North Olmsted, Lakewood and Magnificat high schools.
The meet was broken up into three sessions, with teams of similar strengths and abilities competing against each other. Unfortunately, only two of the Westshore area high schools finished in the top-five of its session, with Magnificat placing fourth in the third session, behind the champion host team Brecksville Bees, Strongsville and Hudson, and North Olmsted finishing fifth in the first session, behind champion Midpark, Hilliard Bradley, Kenston and Cuyahoga Heights.
Although it was not the best showing for the area high school teams, some individuals placed in the top 10, and everyone had a chance to prepare for the upcoming postseason.
For Magnificat, Julia Corrao finished in ninth place in the vault, and Hannah Carpenter finished in eighth place in both the uneven bars and the floor exercise. Blue Streaks head coach Joe Gura knew this was somewhat of a rebuilding season, but he sees much improvement within his squad.
“We’re getting better, faster than I anticipated,” he said. “We’re not really sure what is going to happen this year, because we have a lot of inexperienced girls, but they’re doing well right now.
“Julia and Hayley (Austria) are still our leaders, but our freshmen Jessica (Androsik) and Hannah are coming on real strong,” he added. “As long as they’re calm and do what they’ve practiced, we may have a shot at making state. We thought we were going to be away (from the state meet) for a couple of years before we came back – we didn’t make it for the first time in 24 years last season – but we may be in good position. (Today) is a warm-up to see the teams that are in your district – you don’t worry about Columbus until you get there – you see which teams you have to keep an eye on.”
In the second session, Lakewood’s Grace Hinslea-Burke, a state qualifier last season, finished fourth in the Vault, sixth on the balance beam, second in the floor exercise and ninth all around. The Rangers team is young and still learning its crafts, but assistant coach Kate Laino sees a team on the upswing.
“I think we’ve been progressing pretty well,” she said. “We have a fresh team, with about a dozen new girls, with not a lot of gymnastics experience, joining this season.
“This is our first time at (The Rock-n-Roll meet), so I think it’s helpful for the girls, especially the new girls, to see how a big meet like this goes, and by the end of the season they are ready (for sectionals).”
North Olmsted was well represented in the first session by Krissy Nash, who took second in the vault, first in the uneven bars and fourth in the all around, and Quinn Kacirek, who finished third in the vault, second on the balance beam and second in the all around.
Westlake did not have anyone finish in the top 10 of an event but, according to head coach Chelsea Cahill, the Demons still have time to make a push into the postseason.
“Luckily we still have a month to improve,” she said. “This is the first big tournament we’ve been to and I think that’s the same for a lot of the other high schools here. You get a feel for how the lineup will go and how people will perform under a little more pressure. It definitely helps you know how people will hopefully perform in sectionals.”
Cahill sees her squad coming together as the season rolls along.
“Similar to last year, the Sokol twins (Bethany and Brianna) and Aggie Anastasopolous are the three who always put up our highest scores,” she said. “We also have a daredevil on the team (Rita Forbush) and she is willing to try anything. She is learning a lot of new skills this year. Sophomore Mara Lipschutz is really solid, and we rely on her for consistent scores. Freshman Emma Hall is the newcomer to the team and she is doing really well. Overall, we’re getting better.”
Jessy Leusch, a district qualifier last season, represented Bay High School as an individual.