Gymnastics team ready for big season

By Michael Leonard | Sports Editor Published:

There's no doubt the 2011-12 season was the greatest in the history of Stow-Munroe Falls gymnastics.

Not only did the Bulldogs earn their first ever trip to the state meet as a team, but had two girls compete at states as individuals. Stow finished sixth with a score of 137.275 at the state meet last March.

Third-year coach Kalie Stallard said her team is capable of an encore.

"It's a possibility," Stallard said. "We did lose Ally and we have a couple of girls that are injured right now. But we could make some noise later is in the season."

"Ally" is Ally Marino, who graduated last spring after finishing 10th in the state individual all-around. While losing the best gymnast in school history hurts, Stow only lost Marino and Meg Merline to graduation.

This year's senior class for Stow includes Catherine Suchy and Brooke Smith, both of who will contribute in the all-around this season.

"They both improved a whole lot of over the summer," Stallard said. "They're both great leaders. If they both keep working hard, they can have big seasons."

Stow's junior class include Cecelia Keen, a major contributor in the all-around, and Anna Anadodack, who joins the high school team after years of club gymnastics.

A major part of Stow's emergence last season was the performance of freshmen Jen Rinaldi and Erin Kolke. Now sophomores, Rinaldi and Kolke are expected to be among Stow's top scorers this season.

Rinaldi qualified for states in the individual all-around and on uneven bars and balance beam. However, Stallard notes injuries have sidelined Rinaldi for at least the first month of the season. She hopes to have Rinaldi back some time later in the season.

Other sophomores on the roster include Alexandra Lanci, Emily Hudia and Marissa Christian.

Stallard has three freshman this year, all of who will contribute. Faith Brown would be an all-around competitor for Stow, but can not compete on uneven bars due to shoulder issues. Abigail Wagner will compete on uneven bars and balance beam, while Makenzie Kelly will see action on floor exercise.

Stow will once against compete in the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division, along with Solon, Mayfield, Cuyahoga Falls, Twinsburg and NOC newcomer Shaker Heights.

Stallard said she believes Solon will likely be the Bulldogs' toughest competition for the division title.

Regarding her team's postseason prospects, Stallard is cautiously optimistic.

"I think we can definitely make it to districts," Stallard said. "It will be a little harder for states. If we keep working hard, anything is possible."

Stow opened the season with a pair of meets at its home gymnasium -- Flytz Gymnastics in Cuyahoga Falls and both turned out to be wins.

On Dec. 7, Stow hosted a huge meet that included representatives from nine different schools.

Stow posted the top team scores with 128.1 points, besting full squads from Notre Dame-Cathdral Latin (119.95), Chardon (119.575), Mayfield (116.35) and West Geauga (112.3). Individuals from Eastlake North, Chagrin Falls, Aurora, Kirtland and Orange also participated.

Stow got apparatus wins from Kolke on vault (9.0) and Smith on balance beam (8.8), but did not have anyone finish in the top three in the individual all-around.

"It was our first meet, so I think there were some nerves," Stallard said. "They picked it up by Sunday."

On Dec. 9, The Bulldogs hosted Solon and scored a 131.65-127.7 win over the Comets.

As a result, Stow is 2-0 in the River Division on the young season.

Kolke (33.65) and Suchy (32.6) finished first and second in the individual all-around.

Brown won the balance beam for Stow (8.35), while Such won the floor exercise (8.86). Kolke finished second on beam (8.25), bars (8.25) and vault (8.8).

Stow will next see action Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. when it welcomes Lakewood and Eastlake North to Flytz Gymnastics.

E-mail:mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone:330-541-9442

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