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Determination lifts gymnastics team to success : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Determination lifts gymnastics team to success
Despite injuries, team pulls together for strong showing at sectionals

by Kristin Sharp


If the Oswego co-op gymnastics team proved anything this season, it is that they have perseverance.

The squad battled through several lineup changes due to injuries throughout the season - including a pair of season-ending falls on the floor exercise.

Through the adversity, Oswego posted a season-high score of 135.90 at the Independent Conference meet to place second, and four days later the team celebrated a program-best 12 individual sectional qualifiers.

"I was really proud of their character and adversity for everything they'd been through. The team pulling together is the one thing they all commented on," Oswego head coach Sarah Dugan said. "They were really proud of themselves and really enjoyed how well they came together as a team through the ups and downs."

The team posted a score of 126.50, with a large group of sophomores and juniors making their varsity debut in late November. The scores steadily improved through 2013, and Oswego scored a 131.60 at its home Tumble for the Troops Invitational. Despite the positive gains, the squad lost its top all-around gymnast at that home invite as junior Emily Flammersfeld suffered a broken leg on the floor exercise.

Oswego pulled together in January and scored a 135.0 at its final home triangular of the season on Jan. 29, and added nearly another full point at the conference meet later that week, scoring its season best. But once again, the celebration was cut short by a season-ending injury to sophomore Mackenzie Kennedy, who broke her leg on the floor exercise during the conference meet.

The team closed out the season on Feb. 5 at the Naperville North Regional, placing second with a score of 133.975, but 12 automatic sectional qualifiers and three at-large competitors still made for a busy night at the Hinsdale Central Sectional on Feb. 12.

In addition, all three all-around competitors advanced out of the sectional with junior Alayna Dieter placing third, sophomore Alexia Stamas placing fourth and sophomore Alecia Sahatdjian in fifth in the regional standings.

"I don't think we've ever put three (all-around competitors) in, and had all three qualify in the top five," Dugan said. "Qualifying so many without qualifying as a team is something that I was extremely excited about. Having that number of people qualify, it was crazy that we had this many who were part of the regional team qualifying to sectionals and it was such a bummer that we couldn't get the team to qualify."

Team depth was also evident in the final event scores for Oswego, with a different gymnast leading the squad in each of the four events. Sophomore Jordan Anderson averaged an 8.96 on the vault, Flammersfeld averaged an 8.34 on the uneven bars, Dieter scored an average 9.01 on the balance beam and Stamas scored an average 9.24 on the floor exercise.

"One thing I'm really happy with is that all these years we've had strong players, but overall this group is well rounded and they all can contribute in one way or another. We really do have depth," Dugan said. "As a team and as the season went on and we were losing people to injuries and getting other people back (in the lineup), we were consistent with our team scores. We had depth and we didn't need our high scoring people on their best events. It was unfortunate not to have them and there's a lot more that could have been done, but the team really held it together through all that. We showed that we could still keep improving even though we didn't have some of the scores that could have contributed as well."

Oswego graduates three seniors from its lineup in Hannah-Mae Arney, Michelle Munoz and Hayley Priebe, who was a sectional qualifier on bars.

"For Hannah-Mae, bars has always been her strength so we really worked on trying to improve her form over the years and she started us off on bars as our first person usually in the lineup and whenever she would hit her routine, it was just a great starting point for the rest of the rotation. I'm really proud for all she's accomplished and she's really grown as a person," Dugan said. "Unfortunately, Michelle has dealt with injuries that have kept her from performing and competing as often as she liked, but she loves being in the gym and gave everything when she was at practice. It would have been nice to see her compete a little bit more this year.

"Haley also battled some injuries as well and she really pulled through this year. She contributed on floor and in several varsity meets on multiple events. That was really exciting. Seeing her be a part of the post season, this was her first time being a part of that, to see her qualify was exciting."

Oswego returns junior co-captain Megan Dobbertin along with junior Auguste Fahrlander, Anderson, Stamas, Sahatdjian and Dieter, who were all sectional qualifiers. Freshmen Lauren Brooks and Madison Urban and junior Aleks Dobrzelecka were top contributors on the JV squad this year.

"We are definitely looking forward to next year," Dugan said. "After everything this team has endured, I think it motivates them and I think they're extremely excited. I'm looking forward to seeing them really focus on those goals and keep up with it. The hardest part is keeping it up until it comes back around again. I know they're all capable of it and I really see this group moving on to the state meet. I know they have it in them."

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