All 15 members of the Grove City High School gymnastics team are healthy as the Greyhounds prepare to open their season in the Hilliard Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 14, at Hilliard Darby.
Junior Jenny Seibert said the Greyhounds have learned to not take their good health for granted. Seibert (strained back), junior Alana Freeman (strained back) and sophomore Lily Reed (sprained ankle) missed all or most of last season with injuries.
Several of the Greyhounds also missed meets with the flu, further dashing their hopes of repeating as district champions.
"Last year, we weren't healthy and it ruined our season," Seibert said. "This year, we're really excited because everyone's healthy and we think we can have another season like we did two years ago when we won district and made it to state."
In addition to Seibert, Freeman and Reed, junior Erin Maynard has returned to lead Grove City.
In last season's individual state meet, Maynard placed 28th on vault (8.9), 30th on uneven bars (8.175) and 31st in the all-around (33.4). She also scored an 8.5 on floor exercise and a 7.825 on balance beam.
Seibert advanced to the individual state meet the previous season and placed 18th (8.775) on beam and 36th (32.775) in the all-around.
Rounding out the roster are seniors Beth Ledbetter and Alexis McCoy, juniors Stephanie Fisher, Lakyn Frasure, Brittany Geyer, Hope Stocker and Aly Walker, sophomore Tierra Clark and freshmen Gabby Cordero, Liza Ovchinnikova and Macey Ward.
"Stephanie is a former level 9 club gymnast who will add quite a bit to our scoring," coach Mark Hartley said. "As long as we stay healthy, Erin, Jenny and Stephanie should give us three really good scores every meet, so the key to having a really good season is going to be finding people who can give us a good fourth score on all four events, especially bars."
Last season, Grove City finished last (108.5) in the OCC-Ohio Division meet behind champion Dublin Coffman (141.2) and tied Darby (0-5) for fifth in the final league standings with six points (1-4 league record). Coffman (24, 5-0) won the title.
The Greyhounds then scored 126.9 points to place 13th of 24 teams at district behind state-qualifiers Worthington Kilbourne (140.625), Coffman (138.925) and Thomas Worthington (136.125).
The top nine individuals in each event and the all-around qualified for the individual state meet. Maynard placed second on bars (9.075), fourth on vault (9.2) and eighth in the all-around (35.2) to advance.
"We want to win district again and qualify for state as a team and as individuals," Seibert said.
Mattox returns to lead Comets
Central Crossing opened Dec. 7 by finishing third (117.3) in a quad meet behind Coffman (136.7) and Dublin Jerome (126) and ahead of Franklin Heights (51.45).
The Comets struggled to be competitive last season, but fourth-year assistant coach Brittany Maynard said they will receive a lift from the return of seniors Trina Evanoff and Makayla Mattox.
Mattox, who finished 10th on floor (9.175) and tied for 23rd on beam (8.625) in the individual state meet as a sophomore, chose to focus solely on cheerleading last season.
Evanoff missed the second half of last season with a sore back.
Rounding out the roster are seniors Heather Albrecht, Rosa Cabrera, Rachel Click and Haley Deal, juniors Khyla Benson, Skylar Bradley, Cheyenne Brubaker and Jenell Washington, sophomore Mckenzie Swain and freshman Paige Owens.
"Makayla has club and state meet experience and it's good to have her back," Maynard said. "Paige and Jenell are new members who will help us improve as well."
The Comets finished last (104.35) in last season's OCC-Capital meet behind champion Hilliard Bradley (128.925) and fifth (8, 2-3) in the final league standings behind champion Bradley (24, 5-0).
Central Crossing finished 19th (110.5) at district.
"We're definitely shooting to improve upon last year's team scores because we have more girls on the team and more experience than usual," Maynard said. "Hopefully, we can have one or two of our girls make it to state now that Makayla is back."