By STEPHEN MARTELLUCCI
NORTH READING — In their fourth season as a co-op team, the North Reading–Danvers High gymnastics team reached the state finals for the first time a couple of weeks ago. The Falcons went 7-1 this season as they came in second place in the Northeastern Conference-Cape Ann League behind 8-0 Beverly for the second year in a row.
The Falcons then came in second place to Andover in the North Sectionals on Feb. 21 to qualify for the State Finals.
In the State Finals, they finished in eighth place on Feb. 28 at Algonquin High School.
“This year was our most successful year since the schools have combined,” stated Falcons head coach Jody Bulger. “We kept our injuries to a minimum and I couldn’t be prouder of these girls.”
Next year, however, there will be a lot of changes. The Falcons will lose five seniors to graduation. Three of them were the tri-captains, Emily McPherson, Jackie Veatch, and Lauren Geissler. The two other seniors are Hannah Burns and Sophie Cawlina.
All five of those seniors are from Danvers.
“The seniors played a tremendous role for us this year,” stated Bulger.
The other change next season is that Bulger is stepping down after two years at the helm. The reason is due to her job as an air traffic controller.
“I live in New Hampshire and it is just too difficult with the commute,” she explained. “The girls, who are like sisters, were sad when I told them.”
Bulger’s friend Wendy Beard, who is the assistant coach, is also leaving.
The new North Reading–Danvers coach will inherit a talented team as North Reading residents, Julia Valenti, Alyson Kelleher and Rachel Hill will be back. Valenti was a NEC-CAL All-Star in the All-Around. Hill was an all-star on the balance beam while Kelleher was an all-star on the bars.