Gymnastics: Worthington Kilbourne Wolves 'thankful' for time together
Coming off a season in which it nearly reached the state meet, the Worthington Kilbourne gymnastics team is taking things day by day because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s hard to set goals and expectations (right now). I don’t know if we have any strong, overwhelming team goals,” coach Cindy Fushimi said. “I know in the past the girls wanted to qualify for states as a team and that kind of thing, but that’s not really our focus right now. I think everybody honestly just wants to have a season. I think they’ll take anything they can get.
“And we kind of had to change our focus to be thankful for every day that we’re allowed to practice and make the best of it, especially for the seniors.”
Kilbourne was third (24 points, 10-4) in the OCC-Cardinal Division last year behind co-champions Olentangy Berlin and Dublin Jerome (30, 13-1) and then fell just short of state by finishing fourth (138.75) at district behind state-qualifiers Thornville Sheridan (144.55), Berlin (139.275) and Jerome (138.775).
The Wolves advanced one individual to state in 2020 graduate Hannah Hale. She placed fourth on balance beam (9.375) to earn all-state honors and also tied for 17th on floor exercise (9.175), tied for 21st on uneven bars (8.675), tied for 31st on vault (8.975) and placed 16th in the all-around (36.2).
Leading the Wolves this season are four seniors, including Emily Mosic, who qualified for state as a sophomore and placed 29th on vault (8.8) and 35th on beam (7.8). She was a state alternate last season by placing ninth on vault (8.85) at district; the top eight performers advanced.
“She's a good, solid all-around competitor,” Fushimi said. “We’ll count on her for all events.”
The other seniors are Sophie Baker, Sophie Seculov and Mackenzie Stevens. Fushimi said they are expected to contribute strongly on beam, floor and vault.
Junior Reagan Leo and sophomore Brooke Carter also are expected to make strong contributions. Leo placed 13th on beam (8.925) at district last season.
“They’re both strong all-around gymnasts,” Fushimi said.
The remaining six girls on the roster – Emma Chambers, Marissa Dolciato, Ava Gifford, Madison Kendall, Melanie Resnik and Olivia Shannon – are freshmen.
Fushimi said she feels confident in the abilities of the freshmen, who could work their way into events this season.
“I think they’re going to push to get into some of those spots for competition,” she said.
Fushimi said the Wolves need to improve on bars. Outside of Hale and 2020 graduate Abby Deitrick, who placed eighth (8.9) and tied for 10th (8.8), respectively, at district last season, Mosic had the highest finish among the Wolves with a tie for 39th place (8.05).
According to Fushimi, the Wolves have been resilient amid the restrictions and delays caused by the pandemic.
“They’ve been amazing. They just don’t get flustered,” she said. “If I have an announcement and something else has changed, they just roll with it. And I think this whole COVID thing is teaching these kids that they just have to roll with it.
“So many things are out of their control. So they’re just making the best of the situation and hoping for the best.”
Thomas coach Marci Skeen said she has high expectations for her upperclassmen.
Seniors Macy Patton and Audrey Maxwell are expected to be the top all-around gymnasts and have committed to improve, Skeen said. Patton led the Cardinals on floor at district last year by tying for 42nd (8.5) as the Cardinals finished 17th (124.325).
Maxwell finished 74th (30.175) in the all-around.
“They both worked really hard in the offseason and have improved their skills tremendously,” Skeen said.
Senior Zoe Gertler, who led the Cardinals on beam at district last season with a 66th-place finish (8.05), is “very strong on beam and floor” and also expected to be a top contributor, Skeen said.
Senior Caroline Burrier also is expected to make solid contributions on floor and bars.
Skeen also has high expectations for junior Haley Burkett, who tied for 40th on vault (7.95) at district as a sophomore.
“She’s a really strong, hard worker who competes in all-around as well,” Skeen said. “She’s one of my top all-around girls.”
Rounding out the roster are sophomores Caroline Ludwig, Skyler Hofsas, Katie Wilkin and Ava Gertler and freshmen Maia Wolf, Mollie Geiger, Bridget Pearson and Marley Walker.
“I would like to qualify somebody out to the state meet this year. It’s been a long time since we had an individual qualify,” Skeen said. “Without competing yet, and having such a young team and all the uncertainties going around (because of the coronavirus), I don’t know how we’ll do as a team. But I do know we have a lot of depth that we should be able to do well.”
Amid the pandemic restrictions, Skeen said one thing on the Cardinals’ minds is whether their parents will be able to attend their meets.
“Their biggest concern is not having their parents be able to watch,” Skeen said. “Gymnastics is one of those things where it’s nice to have a familiar face in the audience.”
•Coach: Cindy Fushimi, 29th season
•Top athletes: Sophie Baker, Reagan Leo, Emily Mosic, Sophie Seculov and Mackenzie Stevens
•Key losses: Abby Detrick, Hannah Hale and Trinity Leo
•2019-20 OCC-Cardinal standings: Olentangy Berlin and Dublin Jerome (30, 13-1), Kilbourne (24, 10-4), Hilliard Bradley (20, 8-6), Hilliard Darby (16, 6-8), Dublin Scioto (10, 3-11), Delaware (8, 2-12), Thomas (5, 1-13)
•Postseason: Fourth at district
•Coach: Marci Skeen, 23rd season
•Top athletes: Caroline Burrier, Zoe Gertler, Audrey Maxwell and Macy Patton
•Key losses: Regan Macerollo and Mei Yan Thornton
•Postseason: 17th at district