Preview: Gymnastics team looks to build off dream season

Mount Si gymnastics had a memorable 2009 season that featured their first Kingco 3A championship, their first state trip as a team, and a fourth place finish at state last February in Tacoma.

This winter, the program looks to build off that success.

“The biggest competition is ourselves,” said coach Jessica Easthope, back for her third season. “We’re really not in it to compete against anybody else’s scores. We’re in it to compete against our scores, to see if we can improve and build from where we left off.”

The Wildcats’ chances are enhanced by the return of three of their core members from last season’s dream team. They include seniors Rachel Karavias and Georgia Reynolds, and junior Kennedy Richmond.

“Expect for us to be even better than we were last year, hopefully,” Karavias said.

That strong season last year has helped to increase the program’s visibility.

“Last year, we got a lot of recognition,” Easthope said. “That hasn’t been the case in the past. Just for people to read about the Mount Si program in the local newspaper, and the fact that we did make headline news last year, I think that’s really encouraged our parents, even in our recreation programs or our club programs locally. They support us.”

Mount Si saw great turnouts from the community.

“People who didn’t even have their kids involved in gymnastics would come out, support us and really encourage us,” the coach added.

That increase in visibility has helped to increase the number of athletes interested in the sport. Two of the newcomers are ready to learn.

“I’m really looking forward to growing as a gymnast — looking up to everyone else that is so much better, trying to be like them,” said freshman Katie Huerta.

Newcomers include seniors, too. Among those is Michelle Whims.

“I’m looking forward to doing gymnastics because I did it when I was little, and I am looking to get back in the hang of things,” Whims said.

With such a large turnout, Easthope will need the help of her coaching staff to teach the girls new skills. Fortunately for the coach, she has an experienced group of assistant coaches. They include Jennifer Batton, Megan Slechta, and ex-head coach Renee McCormick. Having McCormick back in the fold is huge for the program.

“She has a real connection with the kids, because she’s out in the school teaching all the time. It’s been pretty fantastic having her back,” Easthope said.

Mount Si will have two home meets this season; those are January 7 and 14. Additionally, Mount Si is set to host the Kingco 3A/4A championships in February.

Huerta echoed the sentiments of her teammates when asked how far this group can go.

“State all the way,” she said.

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