SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 26, 2013

High School Gymnastics Preview: Beverly looks for repeat success

By Gianna Addario
Staff writer

---- — The Beverly gymnastics team will carry 17 gymnasts on varsity this year, all of whom have never experienced a regular season loss.

No, there’s no misprint there. Over the past 3 1/2 years, the Panthers have gone a combined 28-0 in Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League play.

“We definitely want to continue our undefeated streak,” said fifth year head coach Lauryn Ginsburg. “I think we’d all like to see the seniors finish their high school gymnastics careers without a loss by staying undefeated again this season.”

That very well could happen as Beverly is once again considered one the top teams in the conference. With 11 returning gymnasts from last year’s squad and six freshmen on the team, the Panthers are poised for another impressive season.

Every season brings about a new set of goals for Beverly and while going undefeated is once again at the top the list, the Panthers are choosing goals that will set them up for a lengthier postseason.

“Each year is a chance to learn more and grow as a coach and as a team, and I think that is part of the reason why we continue to get stronger each season,” added Ginsburg. “One of our goals is to score over 143. We’re setting our standards and goals high in hopes of coming out the regular season with an even higher average than last year.”

Seniors Tasha Boland and Taytum Geary will lead the Panthers as they were named this year’s co-captains. Ginsburg is expecting big things out of her junior class especially, Heather Gomes (all-around), Hannah Rennie (all-around) and Kate Jackimowicz (beam, floor).

Gomes finished third at the state championship last year and even made her way to New Englands in March.

“While we did lose a couple of great seniors last year, we have gained strong freshmen,” added Ginsburg. “Our returning gymnasts are coming back with some new, upgraded skills, as well.”

Ginsburg expects Danvers and Masconomet to be among the league’s toughest competition, while she’s keeping her eye on Algonquin, Barnstable, Sharon, and North Andover, who Beverly could see in the postseason.

The Chieftains have a new coach this winter, Ginsburg’s former assistant coach Alicia Gomes. Gomes was also the head coach at Danvers for a number of years.

Maconomet returns its top gymnast, senior captain Jessica DeMarco (all-around), who’s been a league all-star since she was a freshman. DeMarco shares the captaincy with Beth Defossez (beam and floor) and is joined by junior Hannah Bradshaw, sophomore Daria Howard, and sophomore Taylor Ciccarelli as returning varsity members. The rest of the team is brand new.

“We may lack a little experience as a team, but I am confident that we will succeed to hit our goals,” noted Gomes. “We have a group of very hard working girls. I think we just need to get a few meets under our belt and continue to work hard in the gym.”

Gomes, who graduated from Beverly High in 1997, coached her younger sister Heather for many years in club gymnastics, and the decision to coach on an opposing team was a tough one for her, but Gomes wanted to be able to coach where she worked.

“It was a really hard decision because I love my sister and want her to succeed in all that she does,” said Gomes. “Obviously I want to help her succeed. She’s one of the top gymnasts in the state. She’s amazing to watch, easy to coach, and a wonderful person. She is in good hands though with Lauryn.”

Danvers also has a new coach this winter. Jody Bulger and assistant coach Wendy Beard have taken over for the Falcons.

The Falcons, which finished the season 7-1 in the conference and seventh at sectionals last year, returns as one of the more competitive teams in the Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League.

While the team is still nursing some preseason injuries senior Emily Knickle (bars) and junior Emily McPherson (all-around) lead Danvers as captains. Top performers Jackie Veatch and Salem News all-star Julia Valenti are back to compete in the all-around for the Falcons.

Rachel Judd is back for her second year as head coach of the Marblehead/Swampscott co-op team. While, they finished at 3-4 last season, Judd expects to have a much stronger season this year, especially on bars and vault.

Both of the captains, Lizzy Sullivan (vault, beam) and Caleigh Lang (beam, bars), are seniors from Swampscott. Other key returning members include Morgan Kessler, Sydney Levine, Kayla Serowik, Anna Godes, Julia Marsden, Olivia Darocha and Lindsey Rae.

Peabody brings back eight of its gymnasts from last year’s squad, including senior captains Courtney Gauthier and Kaylee Steele. Seniors Carly Nangle and Emily Newton, as well as juniors Deana Ramirez, Sam Kinnaly, sophomores Brianna Rago and Aubrey Irvine will compete for the Tanners as they welcome freshman Shelby McKie to the team this season.

Over in Salem, senior Maya Vural, Antonia Katsiris and Ashley Boudreau lead the way as captains and all of the capability of competing the all-around. The Witches lost a good chunk of their team to graduation last year, but look to strike up another win streak.

The Witches open up on January 2 against Ipswich/Gloucester, who is led by senior captain Olivia Grimm. Grimm is joined by juniors Angus Mauser, Jess Looby and Mike Abell as the top returning gymnasts for the Tigerfish.

“We have a very similar skill level as last season,” said Ipswich/Gloucester head coach Helen Bess. “The kids on the team from last year are more confident in their routines, so hopefully everyone can improve their skill level.”

Meanwhile, Salem News all-star Lizzie Ranger returns for her junior season on the Hamilton-Wenham team. The team’s MVP from a year ago recorded a season-high 32.1 in the all-around.

The Generals have 13 girls on varsity this season, including captains Julia Bucci, Olivia Young, Madeline Dalhin and Jessie Herlihy.

Bishop Fenwick, which competes in the Greater Boston League, ended last year with a 5-2 record. Senior Marissa Moschella, who was the Crusaders’ top scorer on floor and a strong performer on beam last season, was named team captain.

The Crusaders also welcome back junior Nicole Russell (bars, vault) and add two freshmen into the mix. Taylor Tattan, who’s a level 9 competitive gymnast and Abby Regnier (level 8) will compete all-around for Fenwick this winter.

“They’re contribute great to raising our team total score from last season,” said head coach Erin McCabe, who is in her third year coaching the Crusaders. “We are also looking forward to facing more challenging teams with non-league meets against Salem, Beverly and Marblehead/Swampscott.”