Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review
                                The Spartans line up for team introductions during their season opener at home.

Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review The Spartans line up for team introductions during their season opener at home.

Spartan season begins with ups and downs | WINTER SPORTS PREVIEW

Look inward, not outward.

That sums up the Spartans’ strategy in girls gymnastics this year. The Bainbridge High team has a focus on individual improvement, and not on the schedule or the teams they’ll challenge in the new year.

“We don’t care what the other teams are doing; we only care about ourselves,” said Spartan Coach Cindy Guy.

“Our goal is to still have all the 10.0 start values. We’ve been working really hard on our routines and adding new skills. We have harder vaults that we haven’t thrown yet,” she said.

“Our bars are improving,” Guy added. “We’re pretty pleased.”

The Spartans boast seven seniors and seven juniors on the squad, plus four sophomores and two freshmen.

“We’ve lost a lot of key people,” Guy noted, and some Spartans have been out injured (including Katie Cooper, who sprained her ankle before the first meet).

Mariko Ronan, a veteran of last year’s state meet, took some time off in the fall to play volleyball, and is back doing club gymnastics plus high school gymnastics.

“The kids we had on the team last year have improved their skills. We’re hoping for the best,” Guy said.

Seniors are Brianna Bruyere, Kylie Daniel, Annie Donohue, Victoria Kleiven, Karena Klinkenberg, Laura Murphy and Kendra Smith.

The roster includes juniors Keagan Daniels, Catharine Fleming, Nicole Houmes, Sydney Johnson, Lina Klinkenberg, Kareese Pippinger and Ronan.

Also competing for the Spartans, four sophomores, Elena Conklin, Cooper, Grace Dunning and Eliza Montgomery; and two freshmen, Lorelei Dean and Linnea Webber.

Two meets into the season, the Spartans have competed twice; they won their home opener against Ingraham and Roosevelt, and fell by less than a point at home last week against Ballard, but still beating Nathan Hale, Shorecrest and Shorewood.

“Considering where we started … we’ve improved a lot,” Guy said.

The sole loss was a close one, as well.

The Spartans surpassed their goal of 160 points, but lost to Ballard by 9/10ths of a point, 164-163 — and without Cooper in the mix.

“We know we don’t have Katie, but we’re generally happy,” Guy said, adding that the Spartans best impressed the judges last Friday with their dance and choreography during Bainbridge’s floor exercises.

They finished that event with scores in the 9s; Ronan scored a 9.4.

“We shooting to get those 9s on beam and floor and bars,” Guy added.

The holiday layoff means Bainbridge won’t return to action until Friday, Jan. 11, when the team hosts Franklin, Garfield, Holy Names Academy and West Seattle.

Another home meet follows on Friday, Jan. 18 with Chief Sealth and Nathan Hale.

Vacation break, yes. But complacency? No.

“We know we don’t have another meet until Jan. 11; we have practice today and practice over vacation,” the coach said. “We have a good solid time to work on adding new skills.”

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