The Grove City High School gymnastics team entered the season with lofty goals after winning its first district championship since 1983 a year ago, but its hopes for another title were dashed by injuries and illness.
Three of the Greyhounds' 10 gymnasts missed most or all of the season because of injury. According to coach Mark Hartley, several others missed multiple meets with the flu.
Sophomore Alana Freeman missed the season with a back injury that she sustained while competing on the balance beam during a club meet in the offseason.
Then, in the Greyhounds' opening meet Dec. 7 against Hilliard Davidson and Hilliard Darby, sophomore Jenny Seibert injured her back while competing on the uneven bars and freshman Lily Reed severely sprained an ankle while competing on the floor exercise. Both missed the rest of the season.
Seibert was a state qualifier last season, finishing 36th in the all-around (32.775) and 18th on beam (8.775).
"I've never coached a team that was hit so hard by injuries and illnesses before," Hartley said. "You can't replace an athlete like Jenny, and the flu kept us from ever being able to put together a stable lineup. It was just one of those seasons where everything went wrong for us."
Grove City scored 126.9 points in the district meet Feb. 23 at Worthington Kilbourne to place 13th as 24 teams scored. Kilbourne (140.625), Dublin Coffman (138.925) and Thomas Worthington (136.125) secured the three qualifying berths for the team state meet March 1 at Hilliard Bradley.
The top nine finishers in each event and the all-around at district qualified for the individual state meet March 2 at Bradley.
Sophomore Erin Maynard placed second on bars (9.075), fourth on vault (9.2) and eighth in the all-around (35.2) at district and was the Greyhounds' lone state qualifier. At state, she placed 28th on vault (8.9), 30th on bars (8.175) and 31st in the all-around (33.4), scoring an 8.5 on floor and a 7.825 on beam in the all-around.
Last season at state, Maynard placed 28th in the all-around (34.825), tied for 21st on vault (9.05) and tied for 24th on bars (8.65).
"We got our highest team score of the season, by four points, at district, and that was the highlight of the season for us," Hartley said. "It was nice for Erin to make it back to state, especially after she hurt her knee right before OCC. But she had an off day (at state) and scored two-and-a-half points lower than she should have scored."
The Greyhounds finished last (108.5) in the OCC-Ohio Division meet Feb. 9 at Thomas, behind Coffman (141.2), Thomas (134.8), Olentangy (131.7), Upper Arlington (131.7) and Darby (123.85).
Grove City went 1-4 in OCC-Ohio duals and tied Darby (0-5) for fifth in the final league standings with six points, behind Coffman (24, 5-0), Thomas (20, 4-1), Olentangy (15, 3-2) and Upper Arlington (13, 2-3).
The Greyhounds lose one senior in Katie Haines but expect to return Maynard, Freeman, Reed, Seibert, juniors Beth Ledbetter, Hunter Hand and Alexis McCoy and sophomores Brittany Geyer and Hope Stocker.
"We're losing one senior (Haines) who is a key all-around competitor," Hartley said. "But I've heard we won't have any incoming freshmen, so all of our girls will need to stay healthy and improve for us to do well next year."
Comets struggled in rebuilding season
With only seven gymnasts who had no varsity experience at the start of the season, Central Crossing struggled to be competitive.
The Comets ended their season at district, as they finished 19th (110.5) and had no state qualifiers. Junior Heather Albrecht had the Comets' top finish on floor (tied for 50th, 8.225), beam (tied for 75th, 7.4) and the all-around (60th, 29.65), and sophomore Khyla Benson and junior Katrina Evanoff had the team's top finishes on bars (tied for 66th, 6.9) and vault (tied for 72nd, 7.8), respectively.
With Evanoff out of the lineup with a sore back, Central Crossing finished sixth (104.35) in the OCC-Capital meet Feb. 9 at Thomas, behind Bradley (128.925), Dublin Jerome (122.85), Olentangy Orange (120.05), Franklin Heights (107.525) and Big Walnut (105.5).
The Comets went 2-3 in OCC-Capital duals and finished fifth in the overall league standings with eight points, behind Bradley (24, 5-0), Orange (18, 4-1), Jerome (18, 3-2) and Franklin Heights (10, 1-4) and ahead of Big Walnut (6, 0-5).
Central Crossing loses two seniors in Arrica Philebaum and Alyssa Whitlock but expects to return Albrecht, Benson, Evanoff and juniors Rosa Cabera and Rachel Click.