Newcomers to help Chambersburg depth
With just two competitive high school gymnastics teams in the area, a friendly rivalry is bound to stir up. And after years of standing in the shadows of the Chambersburg gymnastics team, Waynesboro finally claimed the edge over the Trojans last season thanks to Diamond-ranked gymnast Alex Stoops, who swept the competition.
Last season Waynesboro kicked off the year with an upset over Chambersburg at the season-opening winter invitational with Stoops leading the way. And 'Boro continued its dominating performance throughout the year, up to the PA Classic Championships, in which the team beat out the Trojans one more time, claiming gold in the Bronze Division, while the Trojans settled for second.
This season looks to be a repeat of last year, with Stoops returning to the Waynesboro lineup, and Chambersburg struggling to find an assistant coach and a replacement for one of its top all-around performers Abby Zeger, who graduated in 2016.
But Chambersburg coach Lexie Bowie said the team may have a few tricks up its sleeve. With a few newcomers who have previous gymnastics experience, along with the return of Jaelynn Walker and Jocelyn Kibbe, the team will have more depth.
"We have a few new girls that I am hoping will do well for us, they’ve done competitive gymnastics before so hopefully they can step up," Bowie said. "Marissa Lepo has been a competitive cheerleader, so she has some background and some skills already.
"From what I’ve seen in the few practices, the new girls are very clean and have a lot of skills. We have a couple returning, four or five are new to the team this year and we are holding at 11 girls right now, which is really good for us."
Bowie said floor and will be the team's strength this season and she hopes the team does well on beam, while bars and vault will be a challenge. But as for matching up against Waynesboro again, Bowie said she is still unsure of how the girls will perform.
"I think the Chambersburg Invitational is going to be a feeler meet for us to see how the new girls are doing and what they are able to do in the meet," Bowie said. "I think we will be surprised with some scores. I think we have the potential to be better than we were last year, and not let nerves get the best of us."
Trojans at a glance
Coach: Lexie Bowie, fourth year
Last year: Placed second in the PA Classic Championship in the Bronze Division.
Starters lost: Abby Zeger
Returning performers: Jaelynn Walker (sr., all-around), Jocelyn Kibbe (sr., all-around), Caitlin Hunsecker (sr., all-around), Tayah Cooper (sr., beam, floor), Kayli Straub (jr., all-around).
Opener: Today, in the Chambersburg Winter Invitational, 7 p.m.
Coach: Amy Dennis, 25th year
Last year: Won the PA Classic Championship in the Bronze Division
Starters lost: Kiersten Pollard, Catie Weatherly, Shayna Young
Returning performers: Taylor Caiati (sr.), Karly Atkinson (jr.), Haley Howes (jr.), Megan Kelley (jr.), Shamarah King (jr.), Alex Stoops (jr.), Mikayla Bryan (so.), Madeline Johnson (so.), Lydia Schoonover (so.), Annie Slemmer (so.)
Other top performers: Megan Himes (jr.)
Outlook: "We should be pretty good on vault and floor," Dennis said. "I'm pleased at how fast these girls got their routines together. We have a lot of experience that I hope will translate into a lot of success. Having Alex (Stoops) to lead us in scores is a great asset. She doesn't have a weak event and she's a great teammate. Alex works all year long at Rainbow Gymnastics and consistently improves her skills."
Notes: Dennis said the team's weakest event will be bars,with lack of depth being the main point of concern. "If we can put together four routines we'll be all right; if we can't it will be a long season."