Gymnasts looking to break out

The Mount Si gymnastics program looks to have a good 2005 campaign. Returning as coach is Renee McCormick. McCormick, in her seventh year at Mount Si and 12th overall as a gymnastics coach, guided the Wildcats to a 2-6 mark last season in what is a very tough Kingco 3A Conference.

The Wildcats' two lone seniors this year are team captains. Alisha Fischer and Erika Jensen lead what looks to be a strong veteran team. McCormick says the program is full of juniors; leading that list are Sarah Lewis and Jill Buck. All the top returning athletes either will either compete in the all-around, or are on their way to doing that. All-around includes all four events in gymnastics: vault, bars, balance beam and floor exercise.

"We have more kids who are capable of doing all-around this year and girls who have been on the team previously, and competed in maybe two events are now coming back and saying, 'I now want to do this event,' " said McCormick, who added this is what she's expecting of her large junior class. "What I am looking at for my juniors is to compete in more than just one event ... they should be working three or four events now," she said.

The top freshmen this year include Brittany Cragin, Jessica Zavar and McKinna Little. Little was one of the freshmen who just finished helping the Wildcat girls' soccer program get to the state 3A quarterfinals.

McCormick expects a fifth- or sixth-place finish in Kingco this season as the program continues its slow growth. Newport, Issaquah and Mercer Island are teams the coach thinks will see success this season at the top.

The new $75 sports fee is a concern for the program, but the team has been able to overcome it.

"Number-wise, we're about the same as last year," McCormick said. "I know our parents, they showed concern, because they do purchase their own uniform for our team ... but they understood, and it's not become an issue."

There is one event that Jensen wants to shine in this season.

"Floor. I want to make my floor routine a lot better, and hopefully get my scores up, 'cause I'm pretty happy with everything else," Jensen said.

Being team captains means showing leadership to the team, especially the freshmen. Cragin is looking for a lot from her team captains.

"I expect them to just lead us into victories and show us what gymnastics is all about, and just show us a good time," Cragin said.

Jensen is ready to deliver.

"A lot of them have never, ever done gymnastics, so I hope they learn some skills, have fun, meet some new people and just stay with it," Jensen said.

Fischer added, "We're trying to be fun captains instead of the mean ones, so hopefully we show them a good workout and hope to have fun."

The team boasts two foreign exchange students this season: Ayana Hara, the Japanese student who, as libero for the volleyball team this fall, helped lead Mount Si to an 8-3 start; and Pauline Monet, from France.

Mount Si's first home meet is on Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.; all home meets are at the Mount Si gymnasium.

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