Upper Arlington Roundup: Veteran Golden Bears gymnasts, new coach seek another league title
Entering her first season as Upper Arlington gymnastics coach, Anna Tzagournis wants nothing more than for the Golden Bears to experience the success Tzagournis enjoyed in high school.
A member of UA’s state-qualifying teams in 2014 and 2015 and an individual qualifier on floor exercise as a junior, Tzagournis has replaced Brittany Maynard, who resigned after two seasons.
Tzagournis, who graduated from Tennessee last spring, jumped at the chance to lead the program, in which her younger sister, Mia, is a senior.
“I just wanted to step up for her and the other seniors so they could have a good year,” coach Tzagournis said. “I’m familiar with this program because I competed here for three years (2013-16). I’m familiar with this gym (Universal Gymnasts, Inc., where the team practices) and these coaches. I wanted to provide the proper structure and support the girls need in order to have a successful season.”
In addition to Mia Tzagournis, classmates Tally Angelis and Hope Perry and sophomore Amelia Pearson return to attempt winning a fourth consecutive OCC-Central Division championship and get UA back to state for the first time in six years.
UA tied Hilliard Darby for seventh at the district meet with 131.675 points as Sheridan (144.550), Olentangy Berlin (139.275) and Dublin Jerome (138.775) advanced to state.
Pearson was league runner-up on balance beam last year, helping the Bears complete a 14-0, 32-point season in the OCC-Central.
UA remained in the OCC-Central after realignment for gymnastics and will be joined by Dublin Coffman, Grove City, Hilliard Bradley, Olentangy, Orange, Westerville Central and Westland. Orange was the OCC-Buckeye champion a year ago.
“(A chance at another league title) is one thing from our senior year that we don’t want to be taken away,” said Perry, whose mother, Heather, is an assistant coach. “There’s a lot of strong talent in all different events. There’s definitely more work to be put in, but every single person on this team has a lot of talent.”
Perry and Anna and Mia Tzagournis agreed that floor exercise was UA’s strength early in the season, followed closely by vault.
“Vault definitely has been a strong (event). Everyone is twisting a lot more and we have some potential flippers,” Perry said. “Floor is a strong suit every year because we get a lot of tumblers. There’s a lot of power there. Beam this year is surprisingly one of the best, too.”
Rounding out the roster are senior Allie Hoover, sophomores Mackenzie Allen, Annie Shaw and Addie Tate and freshmen Avery Johnson, Elaina Schneider, Lilly Sears and Victoria Stone.
Originally set to open Dec. 16 with a quad at Marysville, the Bears’ scheduled opener was pushed back three days to the Hilliard Invitational at Bradley when the district suspended all competitions until Dec. 18 to coincide with an OCC edict and Franklin County’s stay-at-home advisory.
“We’re working on getting our routines all put together,” Mia Tzagournis said. “Most people have their routines already, but we’ve been doing a lot of conditioning to get a lot stronger. We tried to take advantage of the extra time so we can get stronger than maybe we could have otherwise.”
•Coach: Anna Tzagournis, first season
•Top athletes: Tally Angelis, Amelia Pearson, Hope Perry and Mia Tzagournis
•Key losses: Ava Carlin, Addy Pittenger, Audrey Pool, Sydney Rose and Taylor Shockley
•2019-20 OCC-Central standings: Upper Arlington (32, 14-0), Marysville (28, 12-2), Grove City (24, 10-4), Central Crossing and Hilliard Davidson (18, 7-7), Westland (12, 4-10), Dublin Coffman (8, 2-12), Franklin Heights (4, 0-14)
•2020 postseason: Seventh at district