In her first year as Richmond High School gymnastics coach, Justine Coblentz-Boggs dealt with almost all first-year gymnasts.
This year, the most veteran member, Chasity Wampler, is now a senior, and she looks to lead the Red Devil team to success again.
Over in Hagerstown the Tigers look to return to the top of the sectional after Connersville snapped their five-year title reign last year, while in Cambridge City, Lincoln hopes to rebuild after the graduation of four seniors.
This year’s sectional is scheduled for March 8, again at Connersville. The regional is March 14 at Columbus East and the state meet is March 22 at Ball State University.
Wampler placed third in vault at the IHSAA gymnastics state tournament as a junior and was ninth all-around.
She then carried her success to the offseason, where she is now a Level 10 gymnast in USA Gymnastics.
“Chasity spent a lot of time working in the offseason — she never took an offseason from gymnastics,” Coblentz-Boggs said.
Wampler was the first Level 9 gymnast from the Richmond Gymnastics Training Center to qualify for a regional, then, the first to place. At Level 10, Wampler can qualify for the Olympics.
She finished second on vault at the Region 5 meet during the offseason, also scoring 8.1 on beam and 7.375 on bars. Region 5 features competitors from Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky.
Wampler placed 15th in bars at state as a sophomore, but when she was the only returning gymnast last year, she helped recruit an entire team.
Returning with Wampler for the Red Devils are seniors Kiley Thomas, Brooke Day and Alexis Sparks, along with sophomores Alegra Cruse and Amanda Rippenger.
Freshmen Paryn Twine and Markiah Johnson are also new to the program.
“I think I’m most excited that it’s not a brand new experience for everybody,” Coblentz-Boggs said. “This year, the girls seem eager. They have a lot more experience than they did last year.”
Richmond opens its season with a home meet Monday against Shelbyville. They also host Hagerstown on Jan. 20, and both Jay County and Muncie Central on Feb. 10.
Wampler was the all-around medalist at last year’s sectional before her sixth-place finish at the regional earned her a return trip to state.
There, she was 22nd on beam, 20th on floor exercise and 16th on bars for a ninth-place all-around score of 36.750.
Another program traditionally strong in the area, Hagerstown, was denied a sixth straight sectional title by just more than one point.
Head coach Andra Solis returns, as do a pair of seniors with big-time experience.
The Tigers earned 103 points last year to champion Connersville’s 104.050.
“They’re probably a little stronger this year than last year even,” Solis said of Connersville. “I think that my teams through the years have been able to beat better teams because the girls have really good work ethic. They mentally prepare to do so, and we were real close last year to beating them. So just to be able to stay up with them is our goal.”
Senior Maddie Davis advanced to state as a sophomore, placing 26th in bars. She and senior Natalie Williamson were part of the team that made it to state three years ago.
Williamson missed time late last season due to injury, but both return looking to make an impact for the Tigers.
“I’m excited to see what Natalie and Maddie can do,” Solis said. “I’ve coached them for four years. … Just seeing them from a very young age practice and work out — I’m excited.”
The Tigers also return juniors Jess Denhart, Macie Bush and sophomore Bailey Davis.
Hagerstown opens its season with its annual trip Jan. 18 to the Valparaiso Invitational.
They have one home meet scheduled for Feb. 20 against Wayne County foe Lincoln.
They travel to sectional rival Connersville on Jan. 28, New Castle on Feb. 26 and compete at the Rushville Invitational on Feb. 8.
“I still think we’re very competitive with teams around the area. It’s exciting,” Solis said.
Many new faces greet returning coach Jessica Phillips at Lincoln High School.
Skye Harris is the only senior, and one of three returners, but the Golden Eagles graduated four seniors last year.
Sara Maley and Clarissa Ramsey are the other two with experience, while three juniors — Danielle Roddy-Gibbs, Morgan Moore and Michaela Storm — have decided to come out for the team, along with freshmen Leslie Richardson, Olivia Bertsch and Alli Gettinger.
“Olivia has a little (experience); she’ll probably be one of our only all-around girls. Other than that, not really,” Phillips said of her team’s experience.
However, Phillips said she is up for the challenge.
“I’m kind of excited; it’s a whole new team,” Phillips said. ” … I’m kind of excited to see how they’ll handle the pressure.”
The Golden Eagles have three home meets this year, and possibly four depending on when their season opener against Muncie South is finalized. It is scheduled for Jan. 15.
The Golden Eagles are also expected to host Jay County on Jan. 23, Rushville on Jan. 29 and Morristown on March 3.
Lincoln graduated four seniors: two-time regional qualifier Michelle Seidner, Kayli Burke, Shelby Bertsch and Cejay Robinson.
“The girls that are coming up they’re kind of stepping up and ready for the challenge,” Phillips said.
“We’re just going to see how we do this year and go from there. I’m excited for all the new faces.”