Krissy Beck of the DeSales High School gymnastics team has lofty goals for herself, not to mention high expectations placed on her by her coach.
Beck, a sophomore and one of three returnees for the Stallions, placed 10th on uneven bars (7.9 points) and tied for 13th on floor exercise (8.4) in the season-opening Hilliard Invitational on Dec. 14 at Hilliard Darby.
Largely because of that performance, 13th-year coach Misty Lloyd-Matthews wasn't afraid to say she expects more of the same from Beck the rest of the season.
"She's going to be our leader," Lloyd-Matthews said. "She looked stronger today than all of last year. She's always had the physical ability. When you're coming back from a strong freshman year, your development will give you more confidence."
Beck acknowledged she feels some pressure to score points in the absence of Kate Miltko, a 2013 graduate who made three individual state meet appearances. Last season, Miltko was district champion in all-around and placed 18th in all-around at state.
"I feel like I need to set a good example," Beck said. "All around, I just feel different. I didn't have a lot of strength (last year) and I've built up more now. I've done a lot of leg conditioning and I went back to Buckeye (Gymnastics) and practiced there. I feel like I have a lot of potential to do good things this year."
Sophomores Sera Kitchen and Olivia Shade also have returned. However, according to Lloyd-Matthews, Kitchen could miss most of the season as she recovers from a knee injury.
The rest of the roster consists of senior Hannah Mulligan, sophomore Kendall Hohl and freshman Kathryn Krieger.
"They know being a strong gymnast is not something you just walk up and learn how to do," Lloyd-Matthews said, referring to Miltko's career. "Kate was a club gymnast. Coming into high school, she had so much experience behind her, years and years. All these girls have never done that. For them to be out there and have the confidence to try what they're doing is amazing."
The Stallions originally were scheduled to open Dec. 6 against Big Walnut and Marysville, but the meet was canceled because of bad weather.
DeSales placed 10th (84.775 points) in the 12-team Hilliard Invitational behind champion Upper Arlington (132.575).
"The first meet is always a little scary for everybody, especially with our first meet now being an invitational," Lloyd-Matthews said. "That might have been even more intimidating today. We tried to hold back a little bit so they wouldn't be overwhelmed.
"They have a lot of room to grow, and I think the girls are anxious to do that."
Girls basketball team hits rough patch
The first blemish on its record this season was all too familiar to the girls basketball team.
After winning its first four games, DeSales lost to Hartley 52-50 on Dec. 12, squandering a double-digit, second-half lead.
The Stallions led 39-26 in the waning seconds of the third quarter and carried an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter, only to be outscored 24-11 over the final eight minutes.
It was the Stallions' seventh consecutive loss to the Hawks, including a Division II district final last year.
Acknowledging it was the most adversity his team had faced up to that point this season, coach Brian Cromwell hopes that setback -- as well as a 47-40 loss to Westerville South on Dec. 14 -- provides teachable moments.
"We talk all the time about being able to handle adversity," said Cromwell, whose team is 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the CCL entering a road game against Ready on Thursday, Dec. 19. "That's what we were faced with in the fourth quarter and I don't think we handled that very well as a group or a program, coaches and players alike. We've played very well for four quarters most of the time. We knew it'd be a battle with Hartley, and it was. That's how the CCL is."
DeSales' wins have been against Westerville North (64-53 on Nov. 26), Jonathan Alder (54-38 on Dec. 4), Columbus School for Girls (73-20 on Dec. 5) and Granville (61-45 on Dec. 10).
Joeynia Herd-Middlebrooks, a 5-foot-8 junior forward, is averaging a team-high 8.2 points, followed by Taylor Freeman (7.3) and Maggie Simon (6.7).
"Joeynia is athletically and physically, talent-wise, overall probably one of the best players on our team," Cromwell said. "She can play inside, she can play outside and she showed at times tonight she can rebound even with 6-foot-3 girls.
"The theme behind our team is playing hard, playing with energy and playing with enthusiasm. She sparks that for us."
Hockey team looks to remain strong in CHC
After steamrolling its way to the championship of the Cleveland Benedictine Tournament, the hockey team begins the meat of its Capital Hockey Conference schedule on Friday, Dec. 20, against CHC-White Division foe St. Charles at OhioHealth Ice Haus.
The Stallions are 9-2 overall and 2-0 in the CHC. They went 3-0 in the Benedictine tournament, defeating Benedictine 10-0 and Avon Lake 11-0 on Dec. 14 before beating Brecksville-Broadview Heights 4-1 on Dec. 15.
Tyler Klutch leads the Stallions with 22 goals. The senior forward scored four in a 7-2, season-opening win over Watterson on Nov. 23 and had hat tricks against Avon Lake and in a 9-2 win over Cincinnati Sycamore on Nov. 30 in the Midwest Thanksgiving Classic.
DeSales and St. Charles are in the CHC-White with Gahanna and Upper Arlington. The Stallions have beaten Watterson and Cincinnati Moeller (6-3 on Nov. 24) in league play.
"I like how we stack up in our division," coach Bob Heine said. "I have no doubt we're going to be competitive. We opened the season earlier this year (the weekend before Thanksgiving), but I like seeing the teams in our division twice. You're certainly going to find out who the best teams are."