Published December 21, 2018
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE—The Melrose High gymnastics team returns to their 2019 season looking to battle for another league title in an ever-changing Middlesex League. They begin their campaign on January 4 on the road at Wakefield, facing a talented Warrior squad that will keep these gymnasts on their toes.
Leading the team this season as captains are senior Brooke Barris and juniors Ciara Smith and Katie Wright. All three are seasoned veterans who can serve in all-around capacity. According to head coach Denise Valdez, there is some fine tuning she’d like the team to do before their season opener on January 4. “We’re showing a little rust bars, which is usually our strength, but I’m hoping we can iron that out in our remaining practices.”
It’s a fast and furious schedule for Melrose, who will be competing twice a week until the end of their regular season in early February; thus, getting as much as they can from practice time is vital for Melrose. The Lady Raiders will have three home meets this season, on Jan. 10, Jan. 25 and Feb. 8, so fans will have a few chances to watch the talented bunch.
On the squad this season are captains Brooke Barriss, Ciara Smith and Katie Wright, along with Caroline Fogarty, Jane Harrington, Gabrielle Prodgers, Caroline Dell Isola, Brooke Heidebrect, Olivia Hitchman, Katherine Carney, Lucia Hannon, Taylor Pesce, Elena Simard and Sophia Weissman.
New freshmen include Carney, who has the potential to be an all-around, and Weissman, who Valdez calls a “beautiful performer to watch,” Lucia Hannon, who has potential for all-around, Elena Simard, and Taylor Pesce, a strong tumbler who Valdez says, “works her butt off and is willing to try anything.”
While it’s certain that Wright and Smith will be the mainstays of their all-around group, placements are still being determined.
The coach notes that the Middlesex League is tougher than ever, with Reading the clear favorite and Stoneham, Burlington and Wakefield a threat as well.
“We’re going to have our work cut out for us, there will be no easy nights,” says the coach. “We’re going to just work as hard as we can to be competitive and pick up wins.”
Gymnastic season schedule
*home: Saugus YMCA gymnastics center
Fri. 1/4 @ Wakefield, 4
Monday, 1/7 @ Stoneham
Thursday, 1/10 v. Reading, 8
Monday, 1/14 @ Arlington 7
Monday, 1/21 @ Woburn, noon
Friday, 1/25 v. Winchester 7:30
Friday, 2/8 v. Burlington, 7:30