Grove City to rely on entire team
With 2012 graduates Miranda Gaitten and Angela Hughes leading the way, the Grove City High School gymnastics team produced one of the best seasons in program history last season, winning its first district title since 1983 and qualifying for state for the first time since 2007.
Coach Mark Hartley said it will take a collective effort to replace that duo's scoring and match what the Greyhounds accomplished a year ago.
Grove City opened Dec. 7 by scoring 122.275 points to win a six-team meet at Hilliard Davidson, ahead of runner-up Hilliard Darby (122.225). The win over Darby counts as an OCC-Ohio Division dual.
"Last year was the best year we've ever had, and we'd love to have another year like that," said Hartley, who is in his 17th season leading the program. "But we lost a major part of our scoring and we've only added one new member to our team, so we've got a lot of work to do. We'll need all 10 of our girls to step up and contribute to fill last year's seniors' spots. We don't have two new girls who can do it on their own, so we'll need to rely on our entire team to replace them."
Grove City returns senior Katie Haines, junior Hunter Hand and sophomores Erin Maynard, Jenny Seibert and Hope Stocker.
On Dec. 7, Maynard placed first in the all-around (32.575) and vault (8.75) and Seibert won the uneven bars (8.2) and balance beam (8.55).
Also on the team are juniors Beth Ledbetter and Alexis McCoy, sophomores Alana Freeman and Brittany Geyer and freshman Lily Reed.
Reed injured an ankle competing in the floor exercise during the meet and her status for a quad-meet against Dublin Coffman, Dublin Jerome and Mount Vernon on Dec. 11 was not immediately known.
The Greyhounds' next meet isn't until Jan. 5.
"We're going to lean heavily on Jenny and Erin to be our leaders this season," Hartley said. "Lily, Katie and Hope are the only other girls who compete all-around, and we don't know how long Lily is going to be out.
"I'm glad we were able to win our first meet, but my goal is to get back to scoring in the 130s consistently like we did last year. We left a lot of points out there (on Dec. 7) with falls and other mistakes."
Last season, Grove City scored 136.225 points in the OCC-Ohio meet to finish second, behind Coffman (136.475) and ahead of Olentangy (135.125), Thomas Worthington (131.2), Upper Arlington (125.875) and Darby (116.075).
The Greyhounds went 3-2 in OCC-Ohio duals last season to finish third in the overall league standings with 17 points, behind Coffman (24, 5-0) and Olentangy (19, 4-1) and ahead of Thomas (13, 3-2), UA (8, 1-4) and Darby (4, 0-5).
"It's nice to do well in the OCC meet, but we're putting more of an emphasis on peaking at district because our No. 1 goal is to move on to state," Hartley said.
Last season, Grove City won the district championship with a program-record 140.075 points. Coffman (139.3) and Thomas (137.45) also advanced to the state meet.
Maynard finished first in the all-around (35.9) and bars (9.35) and second on vault (9.375). Seibert placed seventh in the all-around (35.1) and fifth on beam (8.925), and Gaitten tied for sixth on floor (9.0) and tied for eighth on vault (9.125).
The top nine finishers in each district event advanced to state.
In the state meet at Hilliard Bradley, the Greyhounds placed 11th (134.05) of 12 teams, behind champion Brecksville-Broadview Heights (148).
Maynard placed 28th in the all-around (34.825), tied for 21st on vault (9.05) and tied for 24th on bars (8.65). Seibert finished 36th in the all-around (32.775) and 18th on beam (8.775), and Gaitten finished 32nd on vault (8.6) and 33rd on floor (8.525).
"It was rough losing (Gaitten and Hughes), but we have a solid group and we're working hard in the gym to try to make up for them," Maynard said. "As a team, we just want to place in the top three at district to make it back to state. A lot of us have improved and we have a freshman who has done a good job so far."