Weekly Feature

2018-09-13 / Sports

Gymnastics team moves to Division I with experienced group


The Orchard Park gymnastics team has a good number of returners as they move up to Division I this season. The Lady Quakers will lose just three girls from last year’s team and will bring up several more to the varsity level.

The team will be led by a pair of seniors in Emma Hughes and Trinity Tartaro. Both have consistently been top performers for the team, while Tartaro has made three New York State Championship teams.

“I expect my seniors, Emma Hughes and Trinity Tartaro, to continue to be top performers and play a major role in every meet,” Orchard Park coach Chelsea LoBello said. “Both are known for their consistency at all-around and have been very successful in the past. Trinity has made three state teams in the past, and both girls have had success in the all-around at sectionals for the past five years.”

Kiersten Kahler, Sarah Gutsin and Jess Carey have also been top performers for the team in the past. Kahler finished just shy of making the state team the last few years.

“Consistency is what makes those girls so successful, especially the seniors,” LoBello said. “When we compete, six girls compete in each event with five scores counting, so there’s little room for error. This group of girls have been consistent not just through a season, but through multiple seasons.”

Those girls will be joined by a group of younger girls who will return looking to improve on their performances last year. Freshman Madisyn Draper and eighth-graders Brooke Halter, Eliot Stephenson, Joscelyn Wabick, Nicole Woroszylo and Autumn Kahler are all looking to take the next step this year.

“Last year, when they came on as middle schoolers, I talked about how young they were and how I can’t wait until they get more experience,” LoBello said. “This year they have that experience as well as new skills and upgrades. They were very successful last year and this year, only a year later, they have improved so much. I expect them to continue to grow year after year, and I can't wait to see them lead our team in the future.

“I also have an incredible group of eighth-ninth graders who started as seventh graders last year and already made a huge impact. I expect this year they will be even stronger and with more experience will certainly be top performers.”

Other girls joining the team this year include middle-schoolers Madison Bain, Meghan Langdon, Elyse Moffet, Laura Travers and sophomore Trinity Thomas.

Thus far, LoBello has been impressed in practice by the girls’ attitudes and competitiveness. They want to succeed and push each other to ensure that happens.

“In coaching this team this preseason, what stands out to me the most is how hard they push each other,” LoBello said. “They are competitive and want to succeed for themselves, but they also push each other and want each other to succeed just as bad. To me this is something special that you don’t see in every team, and I think that will lead to a lot of team success this year. We also have a great amount of depth, all with clean and well-executed routines. Our sport is in the midst of some rule changes that put more emphasis on cleanliness and execution and less on difficulty, and that is exactly where our team usually shines.”

Last year, the Lady Quakers won their division and finished fifth at sectionals. This year, they’ll move up to Division I with a goal of finishing even higher and continuing to improve in every way. They’ll have some tough competition with perennial powers Lancaster and Frontier on the schedule.

“After a successful season last year, winning our division and moving up to Division I, my biggest goal is to continue that success rank even higher this year,” LoBello said. “Last year my goal was to come in fifth as a team at sectionals, and we came in at fifth place. This year, I hope to do even better.

“As for individuals, I always strive to get as many of our athletes to qualify for sectionals as possible, so that is a huge goal for all of us. We will have much bigger competition in the team aspect. Frontier and Lancaster are the two leaders in that division and I hope to be competitive with them this year.”

The team will open the season Sept. 25 on the road against Clarence and will have nine more meets leading up to the Section VI Championship meet.

email: tnigrelli @beenews.com

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