When Marcie Durso took over the joint Haslett/Williamston/Bath gymnastics team 21 seasons ago, the program didn’t have a regular season conference championship to its name.
That finally changed this year.
Durso orchestrated the combined team to the CAAC regular season title – and it picked up a share of the overall league championship in the process. Haslett/Williamston/Bath shared the championship with league powerhouse Grand Ledge, which earned a piece of the hardware by winning the conference meet.
“I did not expect that, at all,” said Durso, the LSJ gymnastics coach of the year, whose team defeated the Comets head to head in its first meet of the season. “Over the past eight years or so, we have come in second to Grand Ledge every year. …They are the one team that we have lost to.
“We went into the evening, at the competition (with Grand Ledge), just going out and doing our best, not even paying attention to the score. In fact, they knew we won before we did. We saw some commotion going on … it was one of the judges telling us that we won.
“It wasn’t even on our radar. We just went out and did our best.”
Durso said she had a feeling her team would be able to do something special with the pieces she had in place.
And aside from the team success, the Haslett/Williamston/Bath gymnastics team crowned its first state champion in program history when Brooke Allen won the Division 2 floor event in early March.
“The talent runs very deep on this team,” Durso said. “We could have filled two squads.
“Going into the season, we knew we could be competitive, but we also knew, as a team, we had a lot of freshman without a lot of experience and a lot of emotion. …Winning that meet (against Grand Ledge) put the pressure on us for the rest of the year.”
For most of the last 11 seasons, Durso has been coaching with Shera Emmons, who is one of Durso’s former gymnasts. Emmons also has a background as a gymnastics judge, which is something Durso said “made a world of difference” this year.
“She’s very knowledgeable in the sport,” Durso said. “She knew what the judges were looking for.
“It truly was a 50-50 effort this year. She’s an amazing coach, and she’ll end up being an amazing leader when she takes over this team one day.”
Contact James L. Edwards III at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.