June 27, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Plenty of talent returns in high school gymnastics

Three-time Medina County MVP Ashley Rose of Cloverleaf has moved on to the University of Toledo, but the majority of the 2011-12 All-Gazette gymnastics team is back this winter.

Cloverleaf junior Maddie Brandt, Medina sophomore Samantha Borrelli and Medina senior Megan Kerrigan all competed at the state meet, combining for nine individual berths in the event at Hilliard Bradley High.

Maddie Brandt

Quintuple-qualifier Brandt earned All-Ohio honors by finishing 10th in the all-around, while triple-qualifier Borrelli garnered All-Ohio recognition with a ninth-place showing on the uneven parallel bars.

Medina sophomore Kira Palmer, Medina junior McKenna Baluch and Wadsworth sophomore Callie Almes also return from the All-Gazette squad.

Baluch, however, will be sidelined until at least January after tearing a ligament in her left ankle. The two-time district qualifier is in a walking boot but continues to work out while undergoing physical therapy.

The other major news comes out of Cloverleaf, where Wendy Armstrong has retired after 20 years of coaching the Colts. Former Medina state qualifier Stacy Thornburg has taken over the program.

“Our goals for the season are to stay healthy, have fun, try to win the conference title, qualify as a team to districts and hopefully make it to state,” Thornburg said.

A closer look at the county’s four gymnastics teams:


Coach: Michelle Miller, 11th season.

Last year: Fifth at Medina Sectional.

Key letterwinners lost: Alice Hottensmith (All-Gazette), Kirstie Oravec (All-Gazette HM).
Returning letterwinners: Amanda Stertzbach (sr.), Megan Chiara (sr.), Nicole Ferrier (sr.), Amy Bruce (so.).

Newcomers: Becky May (sr.), Leah Fagan (jr.), Mackenzie Conroy (fr.), Kaylee Gordon (fr.), Brooke Riffle (fr.), Kaylee Shorts (fr.).

Noteworthy: The Blue Devils fell one spot and 3.375 points shy of advancing to the Painesville Riverside District last season.

“We really would like to qualify for the district tournament as a team,” said Miller, a teacher at Edwards Middle School. “We have four seniors and we would love for this to be the most successful year of their entire high school careers.”

• Miller is predicting big things for Bruce, saying, “She has come a long way.” …

• Fagan is making her debut in the sport, while Shorts is sidelined with a severe ankle sprain.


Coach: Stacy Thornburg, 1st season.

Last year: Fifth at Painesville Riverside District, second at Medina Sectional, North East Gymnastics Conference champions.

Key letterwinner lost: Ashley Rose (three-time Gazette MVP).

Returning letterwinners: Maddie Brandt (jr., All-Gazette), Hanna Kotlarek (so., All-Gazette HM), Cassie Grabowski (so., All-Gazette HM), Robyn Tresch (jr.), Katie Schroll (jr.).

Newcomers: Meleah Hansen (sr.), Summer Patterson (fr.).

Noteworthy: Rose made a number of regional television appearances during the fall as a cheerleader for Toledo’s football team.

• Brandt captured the NEGC championships in the all-around, floor, bars, and vault.

“Maddie is throwing some huge skills this season, including a double-back on floor, a double-back dismount off bars, a handspring-front on vault and a round-off back tuck on beam,” Thornburg said.

• Kotlarek won the NEGC beam title, giving the undefeated Colts a clean sweep.

• Hansen is a former competitive ice skater who joined the team this winter.


Coach: Darcy Ranallo, 5th season.

Last year: Seventh at Painesville Riverside District, won team championship at Medina Sectional.

Key letterwinners lost: None.

Returning letterwinners: Megan Kerrigan (sr., All-Gazette), McKenna Baluch (jr., All-Gazette), Samantha Borrelli (so., All-Gazette), Kira Palmer (so., All-Gazette), Gabby Lynskey (jr., All-Gazette HM), Madeline Yurkoski (sr.), Natalie Radice (so.).

Newcomer: Shannon Moran (so.).

Noteworthy: The Bees have an eight-girl roster for the second straight season.

“Being a small team, we need to have contributions from everyone,” Ranallo said. “We’re also looking for leadership from the entire team because we hope to make a return to districts and do well in the rugged Northeast Ohio Conference.”

• Three-year letterwinner Kerrigan made her first appearance at the state meet, finishing 23rd on bars.

• Borrelli qualified for the Painesville Riverside District in the maximum five events as a freshman, advancing to state in three.


Coach: Rachel Frisby, 2nd season.

Last year: Finished 10th at Painesville Riverside District and fourth at Medina Sectional.
Key letterwinner lost: Katherine Bouscher (All-Gazette HM).

Returning letterwinners: Callie Almes (so., All-Gazette), Charlotte Bates (so., All-Gazette HM), Nikki Magnano (sr.), Sylvia Taunt (sr.), Haley Cleckner (jr.), Alli Petit (jr.), Gabby Ruff (so.).

Newcomers: Sydney Kelley (fr.), Ally Mangano (fr.).

Noteworthy: Almes, a first-team NEGC honoree in all five events, has been coached by Frisby since she was 11. They continue to work together at West Side Gymnastics during the high school offseason.

• Bates qualified for the district meet on the floor despite battling season-long shoulder problems.

• Nikki Magnano and Taunt are serving as co-captains.

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.