Gymnastics is a sport about consistency.
Consistency in the moves, consistency in the performances, but the Rockland County gymnastics scene wasn’t as consistent as it’s been in previous seasons.
In a county that had four teams, Suffern was the lone team standing during this season.
Clarkstown, Tappan Zee and Nyack didn’t have teams this year due to coaching and numbers issues.
This season was about the Mounties, and a team with its deepest roster ever worked toward building for the future.
“We had 17 members come out,” coach Lisa Hansell said. “I have about four kids who are club kids. The other kids learned how to vault. They did well. A lot of them could tumble since most did come from cheerleading. They’re young and learning. Having not come up the club route, its a little more skill set they need to get under their belt. It’s nice that all the kids are so young that they have years to get better.”
For Hansell, it was a little different not having the Rockland meets even though those meets were designed in a way where the Rockland teams weren’t competing against each other as far as records were concerned.
“It was different,” said Hansell, whose team does not have a home gym. “But we still traveled to all the meets. All the other teams in Westchester were still there.”
This season culminated with the Mounties having three gymnasts qualify for last Monday’s Division 1 championships: eighth-grader Jenna Sielbergeld, senior Jessica Wenz and junior Jennifer Narsico.
At divisionals, Narsico scored a 5.7 on the balance beam. In the all-around, Sielbergeld scored a 27.8 and Wenz a 26.875. None of the three advanced to Thursday’s sectionals.
With the Mounties having a young team and Sielbergeld getting the experience of competing in divisions, Hansell sees it as a major benefit moving forward.
“I see the potential in Sielbergeld and every year I see new skills coming,” Hansell said. “I do think this will be a very good opportunity for her and a good experience for her. For the team, there’s a lot of potential going forward.”
Clarkstown, the oldest high school gymnastics program in the county, didn’t have a team for the first time in years but members of the Clarkstown squad practiced with the Mounties at Rockland Gymnastics Academy.
“They were practicing with us towards the tail end of the year in hopes to get to compete,” Hansell said. “The timing wasn’t right for them. Their athletic director came to practice the other day” to get information on how to get the program back up and running.
As for the future of Rockland gymnastics, things are starting to come back into focus.
“Clarkstown will be back next year,” Hansell said. “Clarkstown’s back on the map. I heard from (Clarkstown South AD Khris Anvanites) that Tappan Zee’s trying to pull their program together.”
Hansell said there’s an active coaching search at Clarkstown, but if one isn’t found, Hansell said there could be a situation similar to the one between Eastchester and Edgemont where there is basically a combined team.
“The Clarkstown kids would need to get board approval to follow Suffern,” Hansell said. “I’d be willing to do it. I’m not going to leave any kid behind that wants to compete. Their school needs to approach Suffern and make sure they can come with us. That’s what they had to do.”
If Hansell had a vote, she knows who she’d want to coach Clarkstown.
“I hope Jamie Winkler comes back,” Hansell said about the longtime Clarkstown, Tappan Zee and Nyack coach.
Which means this season for Rockland County high school gymnastics was like a balance check on the balance beam. Next year, Rockland County gymnastics should be working its way back to the perfect routine.