While few high schools in South Jersey field gymnastics programs, there are some strong athletes competing this fall.
One is Seneca senior Alayne Corum (pictured), who was the Golden Eagles’ lone state championship qualifier last year and earned second-team all-South Jersey honors.
“Competing at that level was a learning experience for her, and she showed a mental toughness that was impressive,” Seneca coach Dusty Carroll says. “I am expecting her to be a strong leader for the team, and for her to have another chance at placing in the state championship meet.”
Seneca, which was 2-6 in its division last year, also returns two sophomores, Jessi Van Horn and Jordan Powelson, along with seniors Caitlin Coffee and Jenna Stockhamer. A newcomer to watch is freshman Jodi Schauer.
Sister school Shawnee is also hoping for improvement following a 0-11 season. Coach James Baker is counting on returning seniors Audrey Pagnotta, Amanda McDonald, Alexis Gregorio, Michaela Cromie and Rachel Boharsik. Other returning competitors are Rachel Balzan, Nicole Pagliuso, Jordan Ramaglia, Amanda Reeder, Kerry Farnum, and Alex Guarino. Baker says that five incoming freshmen should also add depth to the program.
Cherokee finished 9-2 last year, behind only Washington Township. This year, the Chiefs expect to be competitive once again. Senior Rebecca McCloskey and sophomore Danielle Smith both competed all around at the sectionals and qualified for the states on the uneven bars. Junior Ariel Anderson competed all around at the sectionals, and coach Brian Moore expects her to qualify for States in at least one event.
In fact, Cherokee’s potential to overtake Washington Township this year is among the most compelling stories in South Jersey gymnastics. Washington Township, the defending Olympic Conference champion was hit hard by graduation and coach Glinnie Elmore wasn’t sure who would be returning to the team.
Nonetheless, Township has experienced athletes in seniors Morgan Venuti and Megan Gretzmacher. Also returning are sophomore Victoria Adriano and senior Serra Beam. After being injured last season, senior Gabrielle Salvatore is a welcome addition. Other gymnasts filling the roster include juniors Miranda Spina and Kelly Stonehouse and sophomores Melinda Walters, Rachel D’Alessandro, Matti Beam and Caroline Sandy. Newcomers include freshmen Grace Sobolewski and Gianna Salvatore, and sophomore Kaeley Van Zoeren. While Washington Township may not be an overwhelming favorite as in previous seasons, the Minutemaids could very well end up at top once again.
Also in search of that title will be Lenape, which is coming off a 6-3 season. Though the Indians lost several gymnasts to graduation, coach Scott McManus will rely on returning teammates Elana Molotsky, a junior, and sophomore Marissa Toci. Both were performing well before suffering late-season injuries last year.
“They will be the cornerstones of the team,” McManus says. “How we build around those two will be key.”
Photo: Seneca’s Alayne Corum was a state championship qualifier.
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family’s High School Fall Sports Preview, August, 2011.
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