As one of just two seniors on a very young Lake Central team, Haley Bartolomei knew she'd have to improve both the physical and mental aspects of her performance as a gymnast to help her team improve this season.
Second-year coach Bryan Yancy has seen that development in both traits, which has helped Bartolomei blossom into more of a leader.
"This year she's definitely stepped into more of a leadership role," Yancy said. "In her case, a lot of it is skill. She leads by example all the time. She's my top all-arounder. I think she's taken her role well."
Barolomei was a co-captain last season, so the leadership aspect wasn't really a new thing for her. However, the younger gymnasts look up to her even more now.
"People always come to you for everything," Bartolomei said about being a senior on the team. "They always ask you questions and expect a lot more out of you."
Since last season, Bartolomei has increased the difficulty level on all of her events, leading to scores in the high 8's on vault, floor and beam and high 7's on the bars, her weakest event.
"I'm most impressed with her in terms of her difficulty," Yancy said. "She's improved physically, a great deal. Mentally, she's definitely grown, too. She gets riled up. We've worked a lot on her short fuse. She's gotten a lot better. She'll have a moment, but she reels herself back in.
Barolomei has been working overtime to try improving her bars routine, which Yancy said is the one event that holds her back from possibly getting a 35 all-around score during meets — something every gymnast shoots for.
"I've been trying to put a lot of new skills into my bar routine," she said. "That's the event that takes the most strength."
With a background as a dancer, Bartolomei is naturally strong with her floor routine. It's the event where she feels most confident in competition.
"I was in dance for a long time, so I'm really good at the jumps and turns," she said. "I'm pretty good at the artistic side of it."
Bartolomei has improved about three full points on her all-around scores since last season. However, Yancy and Bartolomei haven't really been concerned with scores.
"She and I haven't really looked at her all-around in terms of trying to get to a certain number," Yancy said. "We've really looked at it more like trying to acquire certain skills."