Tumblers move on without Welsh

Without state champ, Spartans feel they have a shot at a state title in 2008.

Everything was in place for the Bainbridge gymnastics team to be labeled as one of the favorites to win a state title this season.

The Spartans have depth with several letter winners and state competitors returning, they host the Metro League championship meet and they have a superstar in Marie Welsh.

But one floor pass back in May changed all those expectations around.

As Bainbridge gets ready for its run to Tacoma this season, they’ll be without their all-around state champion, who tore her ACL at a practice for her national club team.

The swelling was so bad she had to wait until mid-June to have surgery, thereby putting her on the shelf for the year.

Despite the big loss, senior co-captains Sophie Wenzlau and Stella Wilson said they’ve dealt with it as best they can.

“We found out about it (when it happened) so we had time to deal with it and come to terms with it,” Wenzlau said.

“But while it is really hard (to lose Welsh), one gymnast does not make a team,” Wilson said. “We still have a lot of depth and a lot of good people.”

Guy said Welsh has contributed by fulfilling her role as a co-captain, helping to coach the girls and acting as their conditioning coach as well.

“She’s really been helpful,” Guy said. “I can put her in charge of vault and she can run the kids through and she’ll be choreographing for me (for floor exercises.)

“She has these great ideas (as conditioning coach) so she’s still involved with the team.”

The Spartans will not only be without Walsh, but senior co-captain Lauren Fleming and junior Kathleen Callahan are dealing with injuries of their own.

Callahan severely sprained her ankle and is on crutches for four weeks, while Fleming is limited to the bars due to a knee injury she suffered during track season.

“I might get surgery on it at the end of the season,” Fleming said.

Despite the setbacks, Guy still likes how they shake out with their returners and newcomers to the team.

The Spartans took back the Metro League title last season, placed third at districts and at state, collecting an academic state championship as well.

“I think we have one of those years where we have a lot of depth,” Guy said. “What I’m hoping is that depth counterbalances losing Marie and Kathleen.”

Along with Fleming, Wenzlau and Wilson, Bainbridge has juniors Annie Zuckerman, Chelsea Mahnke, Elly Angell, Ashley Cross and Kalise Ball coming back as well.

Sophomores Mackenzie Teddy, Talia Weiss, Katie Mathews and Eva Fazzini also return.

Among the newcomers are sophomore Laura Bricklin and freshmen Adrienne Palay and Anne Schwartz.

“She (Laura) has some serious gymnastics skills,” Guy said. “She has been out of the sport for a few years, but she can vault and she can tumble. She has a lot of potential.

“They’re (Anne and Adrienne) both ex-club kids,” Guy said. “Both have a lot of talent.”

The team also has a new assistant coach in Bryan Garoutte, a longtime BIGC coach who takes over for Lorry Gilbreath.

“Bryan’s really good about how to make better routines,” Guy said. “He’s added some cool new things to the bar routines.”

Guy is also glad the team has a better attitude than in years past.

“They work really hard,” she said. “From the jv-ers and the first timers to the seniors. I haven’t had to tell them once to get up and get going.

“This group always wants to see how to improve.”

They’ll need that improvement in a classification that has seen several teams lose talent.

The Spartans should do well against the other Metro teams like its rival West Seattle, but will face some tough teams in defending state champs Newport, Mercer Island and Issaquah once they get to districts.

Guy hopes they can improve to make up for the loss of Welsh and her scoring potential.

“I want some of these girls to push to be finalists in the top 10,” she said. “If you’re going to be in the top ten, you’ve got to have some pretty fancy dismounts. I realized that you just can’t show up with the basics.”

They’ll also try to keep their undefeated dual-meet streak alive this season as well, which stands at 88.

Guy went through her records and said they haven’t lost since Shorecrest in 2000.

“There’s a little bit of pressure,” Wenzlau said. “We’d like to keep the streak going but it’s not the end of the world if it ends.”

Though their goal is a state title, Fleming feels that goal is curtailed somewhat.

“Without Marie, I don’t know anymore,” she said. “We’re just going to have to see how it goes.

“We’ll be thinking about it but we’re not sure if it’s realistic or not.”

But Wenzlau and Wilson feel the team is ready to make up for the loss of Welsh and achieve their dreams.

“Even though we don’t have that superstar in Marie anymore, we still have to step up and do better than we’ve done before,” Wenzlau said.

“It’s good motivation,” Wilson said. “Last year we didn’t think we would do quite as good at state as we did, so who knows?”


2007-08 gymnastics

? The Spartans get to host the Metro League championship meet this season, one of seven times they’ll be at home taking on rivals like West Seattle, Mercer Island and North Kitsap.

Thurs., Dec. 6 - Sehome, 6 p.m.

Tues., Dec. 11 - Nathan Hale/Ingraham, 6 p.m.

Fri., Dec. 14 - Shorewood/Shorecrest, 6 p.m.

Wed., Dec. 19 - Mercer Island, 6 p.m.

Sat., Jan. 12, 2008 - at Shorewood/Shorecrest, TBD

Mon., Jan 14, 2008 - at West Seattle/ Chief Sealth, 4 p.m.

Fri., Jan. 18 - at Nathan Hale/Ingraham, 4 p.m.

Tues., Jan. 22 - West Seattle/Chief Sealth, 4 p.m.

Fri., Jan. 25 - North Kitsap, 6 p.m.

Thurs., Jan. 31 - Metro League Championship, Commodore Gym, 6 p.m.

Sat., Feb. 9 - Districts, Sammamish High School

Fri.-Sat., Feb. 15-16, 3A state meet, Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall

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