Published in the January 5, 2017 edition

By Stephen Martellucci

Jen Habeeb is back for her second year as head coach of the North Reading- Danvers High co-op gymnastics team. Last winter, the Falcons finished 7-1 overall coming in second place in the Northeastern Conference- Cape Ann League behind Beverly. They then placed 12th in the North Sectionals.

The Falcons lost two members from that team as Alyson Kelleher graduated and Rachel Hill, a North Reading junior, is concentrating on the pole vault and did not return. However, Habeeb does welcome back ten veterans. Two of them are this year’s captains, Alyssa Kellard (Danvers), and Erika Beherell (North Reading).

The other seniors back are Courtney Field (Danvers), and Ariana Romeo (North Reading). Alexia Galuppo, of North Reading, is the lone 11th-grader back.

The Falcons have five sophomores returners. Nathania Brachnow, Shannon Kelleher, Jenna D’Ambrosio, and Nadia Rawel are all from North Reading while Jess Davis is from Danvers. The three new members are sophomore Kate LaCross (Danvers), sophomore Sophia Rosa (North Reading) and freshman Makenna Lamont (Danvers) LaCross is a transfer from Bishop Fenwick.

The Falcons, whose home gym is Yellow Jackets in Middleton, started practicing on Nov. 28.

“The pre-season went well,” pointed out Habeeb, who feels that Beverly is still the team to beat this year. “We lost our two best competitors but we have a lot of great talent coming back this year.”

In the season opener on Dec. 29, the Falcons rolled over host Salem, 119.6- 96.6, at the Beverly YMCA.

“It was a good starting point for us,” said Habeeb, who was on the gymnastics teams at Peabody High and Springfield College. “We still have plenty to build off of.”

D’Ambrosio was the lone winner for the Falcons coming in first in the vault at 8.4. She was also second on the floor exercise at 8.0.

Brachnow was second in the vault (8.35), bars (7.1) and tied Kelleher for third on the beam at 7.4. She was also third on the floor at 7.9.

Kelleher was third in the vault (8.15) and bars (6.9) while Kellard took third on the beam (7.1)

On Jan. 7, the Falcons have their home opener at Yellow Jackets as they take on Essex Tech at 6 pm.