Amanda Gaylor has several versatile athletes in her first season as coach of the Olentangy Orange gymnastics team.
Gaylor took over for Jen Hedrick, who coached the Pioneers the past 11 seasons. Hedrick also coached Berlin in its inaugural season last winter and now only coaches the Bears.
"There's a lot of depth on the team and it gives us a lot of options and room to grow," said Gaylor, who coached club gymnastics for seven years before serving as an assistant coach for the Pioneers last season. "We have 15 girls, which is a good number. It allows us to do a lot of things."
The top returnees include seniors Olivia Dieckmann and Holly Schutte, junior Emma Wood and sophomore Molly Wheeler.
Hope Baumeyer, Julia Burt and Courtney Thagard round out the senior class.
"Coach has really been pushing us to get better," Schutte said. "We're more close-knit this year because we're a smaller team.
"We like to push each other. If (our teammates) are down, we can push them to get better. If they are struggling mentally with the sport, we can push them to do it."
Sophomores Karis Garcia, Tatum Lather, Layne Petrilla, Riley Rankin and Macie Smith and freshmen Grace Chmielewski, Rachel Lehman and Amira Welch complete the roster.
"The girls are very versatile, so we have so much depth," Gaylor said. "I can go to a lot of different people. We don't necessarily have just one shining star. They are all part of the team and help contribute to the team score."
Dieckmann has been out with a foot injury that she suffered during cross country season, but was expected to return soon. Welch is a move-in from Austintown whom Gaylor said should have an immediate impact on the team.
"I like how they are all willing to help, and it's like a nice little family," Gaylor said. "When you get 15 girls together, there sometimes can be some drama, but it's not like that with these girls. They are all so supportive of each other."
The Pioneers will compete against OCC-Buckeye Division rivals Big Walnut, Liberty and Westerville Central as well as Olentangy on Friday, Dec. 20, at Worthington Youth Boosters.
"We're still trying to get down the routines we have been working on," Gaylor said. "They have so much potential, but there is a lot of room for improvement. I have big goals for them."
Boys basketball team continues strong start
The boys basketball team improved to 5-1 overall by defeating Hilliard Darby 67-44 on Dec. 16.
Orange improved to 1-1 in the OCC-Buckeye with a 76-64 win over Westerville Central on Dec. 13. Jason Foster led the way with 24 points. Ryan Cutler and Andre Irvin both had 17 points and Jordan Bethel scored 10.
Through four games, Orange was scoring 61.5 points per contest and surrendering 51.5.
Cutler led the team in scoring at 17.0 through four games followed by Irvin (16.5) and Foster (13.0).
Girls basketball team posts first victory
The girls basketball team earned its first win under first-year coach Danielle Roe by defeating Central 66-29 on Dec. 13 in an OCC-Buckeye contest.
The Pioneers fell to 1-6 overall after losing to Darby 46-44 in overtime Dec. 16. They are 1-2 in the league.
Kayla Delmore led Orange against Central with 19 points and Ellie Beck scored 11. Joy Gimei added nine points on three 3-pointers, and London Davis and Maya Hendricks both scored eight.
Below are the coming schedules for the Orange boys basketball, girls basketball, gymnastics, hockey and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 20 -- Home vs. Westerville South
*Dec. 20 -- At Westerville South
Dec. 20 -- *Big Walnut, *Liberty, Olentangy and *Westerville Central at Worthington Youth Boosters
*Dec. 20 -- Cincinnati St. Xavier at Chiller North
Dec. 21 -- Mishawaka (Ind.) Penn at Chiller North
*Dec. 22 -- Springboro at South Metro Ice Complex
Dec. 21 -- Berlin Duals