June 25, 2016

Mostly clear

Gymnastics: Bees, Blue Devils have special relationship

MEDINA — There is no denying the intense athletic rivalry between Medina and Brunswick.

In gymnastics, however, that rivalry is much friendlier than it is in other sports.

Michelle Miller

The Bees and Blue Devils will square off for the fifth time this winter Saturday at the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division Meet. The six-team event, hosted by Medina, begins at 8 a.m.

“It has been a great competitive relationship because Medina has always been a wonderful program to work with and compete against,” Brunswick coach Michelle Miller said. “(Bees coach Darcy Ranallo) and I try and work together to try and do fun things for the girls, along with anything we can do to help each other out.

“We understand that gymnastics gets overlooked by a lot of people, but we try our best to keep the spotlight on our girls.”

That includes sharing one Senior Night, as has become a recent tradition inside the Bee Hive.

On Jan. 21, Medina’s Madeline Yurkoski and Megan Kerrigan shared their senior celebration with Brunswick’s Megan Chiara, Nicole Ferrier, Becky May and Amanda Stertzbach.

“Often times, Michelle and I have girls that have grown up doing club gymnastics together, so they’re always supportive of each other,” Ranallo said. “Having a positive coaching relationship, which we definitely do, also helps bring the programs closer.

“It’s nice to be able to share all of the senior presentations before the meet, then invite the gymnasts, their family and friends to have cake and cupcakes together afterward. It really has been a positive situation for both schools.”

Miller credits former Bees coach Kathy Rymer for cultivating the relationship. They coached together at Medina from 2000-01 before Miller took over the Blue Devils, where they remained close friends.

The programs have become so linked in the years since that Brunswick will wind up competing in five meets at Medina during its eight-event 2012-13 season, including the Medina Sectional on Feb. 9.

The squads also shared the mats at the Brecksville Rock-N-Roll Invitational and will potentially do so at the Painesville Riverside District and OHSAA state meet — all while cheering each other on from the sidelines.

“Medina and Brunswick will always be rivals because of the close proximity of the schools,” Ranallo said. “But it is definitely different with our teams and our girls. They genuinely want to see each other succeed.”

Meet outlook

Strongsville is a slight favorite to claim the NOC Valley Division team title over Hudson, while Medina and North Royalton figure to battle for third place. Mentor and Brunswick also should be very close fighting for fifth.

Individually, Medina County’s best hopes at a championship are Bees sophomores Samantha Borrelli and Kira Palmer. Both will be in the podium hunt in the all-around, floor exercise, vault and beam, while Borrelli is one of the area’s elite on the uneven parallel bars.

Stertzbach owns the Blue Devils’ top scores of the season in all five events, but keep an eye on May and Medina sophomore Natalie Radice, who are legitimate darkhorses for high finishes.

Season breakdown

Medina completed the regular season with the most wins in the county and a 9-5 record, but Cloverleaf posted the top winning percentage at .889 by going 8-1.

Wadsworth finished 7-3, while Brunswick was 0-6 in dual meets but finished high at two major invitationals.

All four local teams are part of the field at the Medina Sectional next weekend. The district meet is Feb. 23 and the state meet is March 1-2.

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.