Three returners back for Chugiak gymnastics

Loss of five seniors hard to recover from


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Chugiak junior Emily Romero competes in the floor exercise during the Mustangs’ season-opening meet with West and Service on Friday, Aug. 31. Romero is one of three returners for Chugiak.

MIKE NESPER

Though Chugiak might be low on gymnasts, the Mustangs aren’t short on talent.

“We have a really strong core,” ninth-year head coach Wendy Wiltfong said.

Chugiak has three returners this year. They include junior Emily Romero and sophomores Alicia Reitz and Maddie Smith.

As freshmen, Smith finished 12th all-around and Reitz was 16th at the Cook Inlet Conference meet. Romero placed 38th all-around in the final meet of her sophomore year.

Reitz couldn’t have started the 2012 season off any better.

She won the uneven parallel bars and floor exercise to finish first all-around at Chugiak’s season-opening meet Friday, Aug. 31. Reitz took fourth in the vault and second in the balance beam.

Romero placed fourth in the balance beam and fifth in the floor exercise.

West won the meet with 111.8 points. Service finished second with 109.1 points and Chugiak was third with 48.35 points.

With limited club experience, four of the seven girls on the team are essentially new to the sport, Wiltfong said.

“We have a lot of girls new to gymnastics,” she said.

On the upside, the Mustangs don’t have any seniors, Wiltfong said, which bodes well for the program’s future.

“We’re looking to build up the team for next season,” she said.

Last year’s five seniors (Alex Collins, Alyssa McGill, Allison Thomas, Hannah Rockwell and Jessica Lambert) were a major reason Chugiak finished second at the CIC meet with the highest score in Wiltfong’s tenure. Collins led the team with a sixth-place finish all-around.

The loss of so many teammates is difficult to recover from, Romero said.

“It’s a little emptier without them,” she said. “They were all really high level gymnasts.”

The newcomers all have positive attitudes, Romero said.

“They’re all really fun to hang out with,” she said. “Really eager to learn.

“No matter what, we all bond and have a good time,” Romero said.

For now, Chugiak is focused on developing individual skills, Romero said.

“We’re working hard,” she said.

“We’re trying to get the new girls to improve,” Reitz said.

Expecting similar success as last year isn’t realistic, Reitz said, but the team has a goal of finishing fifth at the CIC meet.

“We’re hoping to still do OK,” she said.

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com.

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