A strong nucleus. A large roster. A new coach.
That’s what the Oshkosh co-op gymnastics team will bring to the table for the 2014-15 season, which begins today at the Manitowoc Lincoln Invitational.
Led by the veteran trio of Theresa Richards, Desiree Flouro and Gabby Tagliapietra, first-year coach Kayla Baudhuin will lead a group of about 20 gymnasts into the season and the program looks to continue its tradition of turning out solid gymnasts.
“Having that first meet in December is hard. You get in the gym, get back in shape and you already have to work routines and your competing,” said Baudhuin, who coached gymnastics for the Oshkosh Gymnastics Center and Oshkosh Recreation Department as well as having competed in high school for Oshkosh West. “It is nice to see where we are at and is a chance to get out the jitters.”
Richards and Flouro each competed at the state individual meet last year — Richards, a junior, on the balance beam and uneven bars and the senior Flouro on the uneven bars — and bring that experience back to the program this season.
Tagliapietra, also a junior, narrowly missed earning a trip to Wisconsin Rapids last season but was a one of the top scorers for Oshkosh all season last year.
Baudhuin is counting on that group to give Oshkosh a solid base to build off of.
“It’s great to have them back. They are doing a great and they’ve showed great leadership so far,” Baudhuin said. “They are all really good friends so they definitely coach each other and cheer each other on. It’s more of a cooperation (not a competition between them), like ‘Let’s do well.’”
Baudhuin expects all three to compete in the all-around for Oshkosh, while the squad will turn to some younger competitors to fill out the lineup.
Sophomore Lauren Sweeting saw varsity action last year and will look to bolster the varsity lineup along with freshmen Kaitlyn Bilky and Samantha Merkel also expected to hold down regular varsity spots.
The rest of the varsity spots as well as the junior varsity positions will be turned over to Oshkosh’s depth.
“The depth is nice to have in case of injuries and because not everyone competes in all-around. Some girls only want to compete bars or only want to compete beam,” Baudhuin said. “We have enough girls that I can hopefully get, once we get all of our varsity teams set we’ll be able to have five or varsity and five for JV in each event.”
Although it is early in the season, Baudhuin does see the squad being able to produce solid scores on the floor and the vault, but admits that there may be some work to do in the other events.
And one thing this December meet allows her to do is to see what each of her gymnasts may need to work on moving forward.
“The break is wonderful because now we can go back and work on this, this, this and this,” Baudhuin said of the near month-long break between competitions. “By the time we compete in January then, when the competition starts to get heavy with more and more meets, we should be ready, have more skills and it can help us prepare more.”
Steve Clark: (920) 426-6659 or firstname.lastname@example.org