Taylor Redden quickly has become a leader for the Central Crossing gymnastics team, helping a young roster learn the ropes despite being a sophomore.
Redden has competed in gymnastics since the third grade. That has helped her become a steadying force for the Comets.
"I feel I have a little more experience around things," she said. "If it's their first time competing, I can help them to get over their nerves or help them with new skills. I like to help them feel more confident in the sport."
The Comets opened the season in a five-team meet Dec. 11 at Worthington Kilbourne, and coach Lavon Maynard said Redden immediately showed leadership qualities and set a positive tone.
"Taylor is a leader, and she has the experience," Maynard said. "She likes to get people psyched up and ready to go.
"The first meet at Kilbourne was a 'pink meet' (for breast cancer research) and she got pink wristbands for everyone. She is a good team player."
Redden excels in the vault, an event in which she had to overcome an early fear.
"When I first tried it, I was pretty scared of it," she said. "It's kind of scary running up to a table and realizing that you have to go over that. But once you get used to it and once you get over that fear, it's really fun and easy. You can just let yourself go.
"Honestly, you can't be scared of it. If you get scared of it, then that's where it all goes wrong and you kind of just like mess up or don't do it right. If you don't do it or you're afraid of it, then it won't turn out as well."
The uneven bars are a challenge for Redden, but she keeps working to improve her skills in the event.
"Bars is probably my hardest event," she said. "It can be a struggle. There is a lot of upper-body strength, and I don't have a lot of that. But I keep working at it."
One of Redden's biggest changes has been her mental approach. Instead of getting down on herself over a bad performance, she takes it stride and knows she will compete another day.
"Coach has taught me a lot about a growth mindset," she said. "You have to let go and just do things. I have a lot more of an open mind, not just in gymnastics.
"I think I have a better mindset this year. I'm not afraid to try new things. I'm into it a little more. At first I was mostly focused on getting good scores, but now I like to have fun with it. I've found that just by having fun with it, I have grown not only in my score but my technique. I used to be really hard on myself so now I have taken the pressure off myself."
Maynard noticed the maturity shown by her second-year competitor.
"She knows there is going to be another meet," Maynard said. "She knows not to dwell on the things that she can't change. She has to keep on moving."
Redden likes the family atmosphere in gymnastics, which is why she continues to find the sport appealing.
"I like how it's a competitive sport so you get to compete against everyone else and yourself at the same time," she said. "And it's also a team sport, so you have ... that connection with everybody as well."
The Comets next compete in the OCC-Central Division meet Feb. 12 at Marysville. Last season, they finished fifth (106.925) of eight teams behind first-place Hilliard Davidson (129.8).
Howard leads swimmers in OCC-Central meet
Haylee Howard finished third in the 50-yard freestyle (25.65 seconds) to lead the girls swimming and diving team in the OCC-Central meet Jan. 25 at Kenyon College.
The sophomore also placed fifth in the 100 free (57.73) as the girls finished fifth (163 points) behind Upper Arlington (573), Dublin Coffman (456), Marysville (288) and Davidson (241) and ahead of Westland (70).
Howard joined Haley Kumfer, Madison Studt and Emma Thompson on the third-place 400 free relay (4:06.42) and the fourth-place 200 medley relay (2:07.35).
Thompson placed sixth in the 500 free (5:46.64).
The boys team was fifth (112) behind UA (600), Davidson (400), Coffman (316) and Marysville (217).
The 200 free relay of Maverick Smith, Logan Watson, Uniah Neville and Jacob Archer was fourth (2:01.86). Mitchel Smith placed sixth in the 100 butterfly (1:01.73).
Boys basketball team looking to snap skid
The boys basketball team had lost three consecutive games and was 3-13 overall before playing Teays Valley on Jan. 28.
The Comets dropped to 2-5 in the OCC-Central by falling to Marysville 51-42 on Jan. 24. Tyler Ronevich had nine points and Jander Garcia added eight.
Logan Green scored 12 points and Donavan Collins added 11 as Central Crossing lost to Grove City 58-44 on Jan. 22. The Comets also lost to the Greyhounds 65-56 on Dec. 28 in the championship game of the Best of the South-West tournament at Westland.
Below are the coming schedules for the Central Crossing boys basketball, girls basketball, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 31 -- At Hilliard Davidson. The Comets defeated the Wildcats 61-56 on Dec. 20.
Feb. 4 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
*Jan. 31 -- Home vs. Davidson. The Comets lost to the Wildcats 70-36 on Dec. 20.
Feb. 4 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 1 -- Upper Arlington Invitational
*Jan. 30 -- At Westland