If Grove City High School gymnastics coach Mark Hartley was afraid of a slow start for his young team this year, maybe the Greyhounds' finish in their first meet is a positive sign.

If Grove City High School gymnastics coach Mark Hartley was afraid of a slow start for his young team this year, maybe the Greyhounds' finish in their first meet is a positive sign.

With only three returnees among its 14 gymnasts, Grove City finished in the middle of the pack in the 14-team Hilliard Invitational on Dec. 12 at Hilliard Bradley. The Greyhounds scored 119.25 points to place eighth behind champion Dublin Coffman (137.775), despite no individuals earning a top-10 finish in any event.

"(We have) a lot of youth," said Hartley, who is in his 20th season. "We have a big group of girls who have done gymnastics in the past, but it's been like four or five years ago. Then I have a bunch who have never done it, ever.

"I used to own a gym in Grove City (Winning Edge Gymnastics). Last year was the last (time) that I had three girls on the team that I have had since they started gymnastics. So this is the first team I have ever had that I haven't had anyone who has come up with me since the beginning. It's a different dynamic, but it's good. We have some potential.

"You just go see what they can do and try to figure it out."

Senior Lily Reed and sophomores Macy Mills and Rylie Sines will be counted on as leaders for a team that lost two state qualifiers to graduation in Erin Maynard and Jenny Seibert. Seibert originally was a state alternate last season but ended up placing eighth on balance beam, and Maynard was 18th on vault and 20th in the all-around.

"We have a lot of motivation because there is so much stuff we have to learn. As a whole, we all need to figure out new things," Reed said. "We get to practice and we get right to work. We're all trying."

Rounding out the roster are juniors Chastity Baldridge, Briana Fisher and Caitlin Humphrey, sophomores Lauren Andrews, Kristen Kiser, Kennedy Kocheran, Jaci Laferty and Calin Wright and freshmen Kaelyn Kuder, Morgan Lemponen and Calista Manns.

Grove City next competes Jan. 4 in a quad meet at Dublin Jerome that also includes Coffman and Olentangy Orange. The Greyhounds begin OCC-Ohio Division competition Jan. 13 at league foe Thomas Worthington in a quad meet that also includes Dresden Tri-Valley and Thornville Sheridan.

Grove City went 0-5 with six points in the league last year to finish sixth behind champion Coffman (24, 5-0). The Greyhounds were fifth (124.575) in the league meet behind the champion Shamrocks (144.4).

Hartley hopes that some of his gymnasts' background in cheerleading leads to solid performances, but added that tweaks must take place for that to happen.

Mills said a big emphasis, at least in the early going, would be emphasizing the differences between cheerleading and gymnastics moves.

"It's about transferring their skills into gymnastics and getting them into the correct form," Mills said. "The dance aspect of gymnastics, I think, has to play a big aspect. Just planting your feet and pointing your toes, things like that."

Cook, Deal return for Comets

Senior Haley Deal and sophomore Diamond Cook are back to lead Central Crossing.

Cook was 79th in the all-around, tied for 83rd on vault and finished 87th on uneven bars last year in the district tournament. Deal was 80th in the all-around and 83rd on bars.

The Comets opened Dec. 7 by winning a quad at Westerville Central, scoring 113.65 points to finish ahead of Westland (97.55), Central (97.4) and Franklin Heights (84).

Those wins over Central and Westland got Central Crossing off to a 2-0 start in OCC-Capital competition, matching their win total from last season in league duals. The Comets went 2-5 with 12 points, finishing sixth behind champion Bradley (32, 7-0).

Central Crossing also was sixth of eight teams in the league meet, scoring 109.8 points behind the champion Jaguars (134.925).

Rounding out the roster are senior McKenzie Swain, juniors Kaitlyn Flowers and Allison Hiser, sophomores Kaylee Acuin, Cori Dotters and Mackenzie Turner and freshmen Mayci Hummell, Delaney Smith and Katelyn Wooten.