Senior Kayla Malik and junior Ally Duckworth are being counted on to lead the Hilliard Bradley High School girls gymnastics team this season.
But there's much more to the team, according to coach Carol Eskay.
"We have quite a few returnees and we'll be able to get good scores throughout the lineup," said Eskay, who is in her fourth season coaching the Jaguars and her 11th season coaching the Darby and Davidson squads. "The strength of the team is consistency and everyone will contribute."
Duckworth was an individual state qualifier in the balance beam last season, finishing 31st with a score of 8.375 points.
"Kayla and Ally are our most experienced and both obviously have the ability to compete at state, although I believe there are several others from Hilliard who also have the ability," Eskay said. "What it comes down to is who performs the best on that day at district, who is ready and can perform routines as well as they do in practice."
Duckworth placed fourth (8.95) in the district meet last season at Worthington Kilbourne, as the top three teams and top nine finishers in each event, including the all-around, qualified for the state meet at Bradley. The Jaguars finished 11th (127.85) at district, as Grove City (140.075), Dublin Coffman (139.3) and Thomas Worthington (137.45) advanced to state.
At district, Duckworth placed 18th in the all-around (34.35), tied for 10th on the uneven bars (8.5) and tied for 21st on the floor exercise (8.8). Malik tied for 15th on floor (8.9).
"I'm still trying to work my way back from an elbow injury, but I'm getting closer and my goal is to return to state in the beam and maybe the floor," Duckworth said. "I think Kayla Malik and Hannah Richards could make it, too.
"It would be nice, since we practice with Davidson and Darby and the state meet is here again, if (Davidson's) Erin Finneran, (Davidson's) Mackenzie Brown and (Darby's) Nicole Norris could make it. They all have a chance and think that would be fun."
Bradley has four other returnees who competed at district last season in senior Gabby Colaiacovo and sophomores Erin Lee, Emily Wawryzniak and Taylor Wester.
The Jaguars finished second (127.575) in the OCC-Capital Division meet a year ago behind Dublin Jerome (128.925) and ahead of Big Walnut (125.6), Central Crossing (119), Olentangy Orange (118.825) and Mount Vernon (102.975).
Bradley went 4-1 in OCC-Capital duals and placed second in the overall league standings with 20 points, behind Jerome (24, 5-0) with Big Walnut (16, 2-2) and Orange (12, 2-3) rounding out the top four.
Mount Vernon is not fielding a team this season.
Duckworth was the league champion in the all-around (33.95) after placing first on beam (8.55), second on bars (8.525), fourth on floor (8.75) and eighth on vault (8.125). Malik won vault (8.7) and was fourth on floor (8.75).
Rounding out the roster are junior Madison McDonnell, sophomores Laney Colaiacovo, Micaela Morales and Hannah Richards and freshmen Emily Tamburro and Emily Vitek.
"I have been pleasantly surprised by the progression of all the girls," Eskay said. "The returning girls are gaining skills and the young ones are picking things up very well."
In the Hilliard Invitational on Dec. 15 at Davidson, the Jaguars finished fourth (122.2) behind champion Upper Arlington (128), Darby (123.4) and Olentangy Liberty (122.7) and ahead of Davidson (121.3), Grove City (119.1), Jerome (105.7), Thornville Sheridan (104.4) and Dublin Scioto (71.2).
Panthers being led by four returnees
Darby has four experienced returnees in seniors Sierra Ridenour and Carrie Snider, junior Nicole Norris and sophomore Janel Kuebler.
The Panthers placed 14th (123.45) at district a year ago. Kuebler was their top finisher in the all-around (tied for 42nd, 32.25) and tied for 20th on beam (8.5) and finished 40th on floor (8.575). Snider and Ridenour were 63rd (30.25) and 65th (29.625), respectively, in the all-around.
Norris, a state qualifier on beam as a freshman, competed at district last season with a foot injured and finished 18th on beam (8.55).
"Those are our experienced leaders and they all have higher aspirations this year," Eskay said. "But we've got a lot of young talent coming in with good skills, so there's a lot of possibilities there."
Also on the team are senior Maria Rodriguez, juniors Priya Mehra and Molly Torok and freshmen Maddie Baumer, Audrey Craddick, Hannah Donovan, Elizabeth Ferry, Marissa Huffman, Alexis Piascik and Catarina Prisbrey.
"We've only had a few meets thus far, but Huffman and Craddick have put up some strong performances as freshmen," Eskay said. "Our goals, for all these teams, is to meet and exceed our internal individual goals. We want to get better from beginning to end and I think each of the girls on all these teams will do that."
Last season, the Panthers finished sixth (116.075) in the OCC-Ohio meet behind Coffman (136.475), Grove City (136.22), Olentangy (135.125), Thomas (131.2) and Upper Arlington (128.875). Ridenour placed 10th on beam (8.0) and 12th on vault (8.325) and Snider was 13th on floor (8.45).
Darby finished sixth (4, 0-5) in the overall league standings, behind Coffman (24, 5-0), Olentangy (19, 4-1), Grove City (17, 3-2), Thomas (13, 3-2) and UA (8, 1-4).
In the Hilliard Invitational on Dec. 15, Norris won beam (8.7) to help the Panthers finish third.
Wildcats' program continues to grow
Davidson's program is continuing its growth.
The Wildcats have 11 members, including six returnees, after having just five in the 2010-11 season and 10 last season.
The returnees are juniors Lydia Gordon, Melissa Hong and Dianna Petty and sophomores Katie Huffman, Caitlin Johnson and Sonya Zaguzina.
"The past few years we've been in a rebuilding process, but now we feel we've built back up," Eskay said. "We will have a full lineup all year and the new girls bring a lot to the table in terms of strength and skill."
Rounding out the roster are senior Ali Byrer, junior Mackenzie Brown, sophomore Erin Finneran and freshmen Claire Buchholz and Kaitlyn Phillips.
"We've got some talent," Eskay said. "Ali Byrer has one meet under her belt and looks strong in the all-around, Mackenzie Brown looks good on floor and beam and Erin Finneran looks strong."
Last season, the Wildcats finished 18th (117.525) at district and fourth (111.325) in the OCC-Central meet, behind Kilbourne (134.75), Liberty (126.95) and Delaware (116.075) and ahead of Westland (92.75) and Scioto (83.95).
In the league meet, Zaguzina place sixth on vault (8.15) and 10th on bars (6.75).
Davidson finished third (14, 3-2) in the league standings, behind Kilbourne (24, 5-0) and Liberty (20, 4-1) and ahead of Delaware (14, 2-3), Scioto (6, 1-4) and Westland (6, 0-5).
In the Hilliard Invitational on Dec. 15, Finneran finished first on floor (8.9) to help the Wildcats finish fifth.