Women’s gymnastics hopes to stick their landing at state

Mary Jane McNary, asst. sports editor

The music is blasting through the locker room as the women’s gymnastics team preps for the first meet of the season against Deerfield. Minutes before the first meet of the season, senior co-captains Bebe Haramaras and Kylie Kruger get the team pumped for the competition as Blase rattles through the locker room.

According to Haramaras, the team continues this tradition for every home meet and other big events. The women’s gymnastics team carries on this tradition as a way to relax the nerves before they compete. According to sophomore Jenna Hartley, this tradition is a way to remember to have fun and focus less on how they’re going to stick a routine.

The women’s gymnastics team took third at IHSA state meet last season, behind Dekalb at second and Prairie Ridge at first. The team hasn’t been to state since the 1970s, so placing last year was a big deal, according to head coach Steve Gale.

“Right now, our short term goals are just to improve the things where we are weak like staying on beam, clean up our floor routine, get a better dismount on bars, stand up our vaults. If we stay focused [on short term goals] then we will be very pleased,” Gale said.

Although there is pressure to make it back to state and do as well as last year, the team wants to focus on having a fun year. Haramaras believes that if they focus on the experiences and having fun, then they’ll reach their goals.

“We know we have what it takes to make it to state and to get that trophy again and we just need to focus on having a good season, having fun, staying healthy, motivating each other and not focusing so much on where we rank,” Haramaras said.

According to Hartley, they haven’t had many meets yet but there are improvements in each competition. Due to recent scoring at meets, Hartley is optimistic the season will go well.

“Sheena Graham [scored] 9.8 [out of 10] in vault; [after the high score] everyone ran up to her and hugged and it showed how good we can be this season when we get that score that early on in the season,” Hartley said.

This season, varsity is mixed with girls from all grades, creating a depth that the team uses as their strength. The team currently consists of two seniors, two sophomores and three freshman, according to Gale.

“We have lots of talent at the same level. If someone gets hurt we have someone who can move up. [I don’t wish anyone to get hurt] but we’ve got the depth,” Gale said.

The team has some tough competition such as New Trier and Maine South, and in order to compete well against the tough competition, they need to focus on the preparation. According to Haramaras, the team has to understand that they don’t have the same team as last year; they have different girls, new skills and ideas.

“New Trier is our biggest competitor, especially since we were so close to them, neck and neck last year and we ended up coming on top which was really awesome for us,” Haramaras said.

According to Hartley, she received two stress fractures due to gymnastics, which left her unable to compete for the rest of the club season. As she continues to gain back her skills, Hartley says a goal for her is to stay healthy. According to Haramas she believes that staying healthy is a goal for the entire team, in order to prepare for future competition.

“We are obviously all working as hard as we can, but we need to make sure we are healthy right now and [have] a lot of good team dynamics for the rest of the season,” Haramaras said.

Along with New Trier, Maine South is a tough competitor for the team, and the team is focusing on certain things in order to be prepared for those meets, according to Gale.

“You could have a bad meet, all these things you don’t have a lot of control over. We’re in hopes of being competitive in the conference,” Gale said. “We’ve got New Trier and Maine South that’s going to be tough but we have to compete well against them.”

After a win against Palatine on Dec. 16, the girls currently ranked first in the state. According to Gale, they still have to overcome tough competition at sectionals.

“We have to compete well to [make it past]sectionals, and if we can [make it past] sectionals healthy, we have a chance of making a big splash at state, but have to get there first,” Gale said.

The team will hit the floor again on Jan. 11.