Duneland Athletic Conference
Gymnasts to watch: Brandi Tuzinski, Sr.; Jordan Kearby, So.; Taylor Rodriguez, So.; Isabelle Wheeler, Fr.
Outlook: The Trojans are young – nine of 14 gymnasts are underclassmen – but look to be improved. Led by Tuzinski, a state qualifier, Chesterton is hoping to pick up the slack on its weaker events: vault and uneven bars. “Almost all of the girls have competitive experience in the club circuit,” coach Lauren West said. “Many of the girls put in a lot of hours at their gyms this summer to amp up their difficulty, which will really show on vault and bars. We’re looking to be a threat all-around this year.”
Gymnasts to watch: Natalie Groff, Sr.; Hannah Best, So.; Autumn Chandos, Fr., Rayne Charters, Fr.; Amber St. Germaine, Fr.
Outlook: Crown Point’s team of nine is looking forward to a trio of freshmen who could have an immediate impact in Chandos, Charters and St. Germaine. With key losses in graduates Megan Supan and Emily Langston and injuries to Samantha Nichol and Brittnee Miles, coach Ami Pysh looks for this to be a rebuilding year.
Gymnasts to watch: Andi Wartman, Jr.; Amaris Gallegos, So.; Megan Misirly, So.; Emma Weissbeck, So.; Alyssa Klapowski, Fr.
Outlook: Lake Central has a good mix of veterans and newcomers – six returners and seven rookies. L.C. will rely on a trio of sophomores – Gallegos, Misirly and Weissbeck – along with Wartman and Klapowski. “The girls have been working hard and focusing on their individual goals as well as our goals as a team...” first-year coach Myra Lolkema said.
Gymnasts to watch: Kylee Harlow, Sr.; Marissa Hill, Sr.; Melanie Smith, Sr.; Sarah Zyzmuntowski, Fr.
Outlook: LaPorte is a small team with only six girls, but coach Emily Crabtree doesn’t think that is necessarily a bad thing. "It’s easier to work with the girls (one-on-one) more and get them better prepared for every meet,” she said. “That’s definitely one of the strengths of having a small team.” Crabtree admitted it would be nice to have more gymnasts, but she is thankful to have the experienced trio of Harlow, Hill and Smith leading the way.
Gymnasts to watch: Kristina Goodman, Sr.; Taylor Woods, Sr.; Bethany Rochefort, So.; Heather Osorio, Fr.
Outlook: Merrillville has a long line of sectional near misses, and the goal is to make it to regionals as a team. The 10-member squad with five returning letterwinners is still an enigma to coach Diane Roberts. “If I’ve learned anything after doing this for 41 years it’s that just about the time you think you’re looking really good, everyone else is looking better,” Roberts said. “It’s going to be hard to tell until we get through probably the first three meets in our state.”
Gymnasts to watch: Natalie Smith, Sr.; Shelby Ford, Jr.; Adrienne Fuller, Jr.; Ashley Koza, Jr.; Kristen Gushrowski, So.
Outlook: Michigan City lost just one senior to graduation and has just one senior, Natalie Smith, on the squad. Smith will be looked upon to provide leadership along with Ford, Fuller and Ashley Koza, who finished ninth on the uneven bars at state. “This season is looking very promising,” coach Gillian Kieft said. “This should be our strongest season since 2006.”
Gymnasts to watch: Danielle Solis, Sr.; Madison Kurtz, Jr.
Outlook: The defending state champions graduated floor and all-around champion Mackenzie Barcelli and will look to Solis and Kurtz, who finished seventh all-around, to lead a very young team. “This is the largest team (17 members) we’ve had since I’ve been here, but most of them are freshmen,” coach Karen Barcelli said. “...I hope that means we’ll have a lot of depth. Hopefully those holes will be filled by a bunch of girls who might specialize in individual events.”
Gymnasts to watch: Rushelle Miller, Jr.; Caroline Miller, So.; Lia Milroy, So.
Outlook: Valparaiso was the state runner-up and graduated vault and bars champion Morgan Algozine. “We have a group of 18 gymnasts working hard to be the best they can be, and they hope to provide the needed depth for a successful season,” coach Lorie Cook said. Cylie Miller, Emily Lynch and Hanna Wilson, alternates last year, and they should step up to fill open spots in the lineup.
Gymnast to watch: Jessica Stahl, So.
Outlook: Stahl is Boone Grove’s lone participant. She will be coached by her mother, Julie. “She’s made great strides,” coach Stahl said. “She worked hard over the summer and this fall and has gained many more skills. She’s a very hard worker and she’s very determined.”
Gymnast to watch: Morgan Gospadarek, So.
Outlook: The Brickies have no juniors or seniors and also no club gymnasts – but coaches Jenny and Jose Crespo believe the hard-working group has made great individual improvements already. While the eye is on the future, including a middle school crop that could eventually put Hobart gymnastics back firmly on the map, the Crespos are also excited about this year’s team. “The team is working in strengthening confidence,” Jose Crespo said. “If we add a little more confidence in their abilities to accompany their work ethic, the team will make vast improvements.”
Gymnasts to watch: Sam Hammer, Sr.; Melena Hernandez, Sr.; Skyler Lewis, Jr.; LeeAnn Sheets, Jr.; Erin Brown, Fr.
Outlook: The return of Hernandez, who took a couple of seasons off, gives Lowell what is likely its deepest team in years. Hernandez has the potential to advance beyond the sectional, while Hammer, Sheets and Lewis lend talent and high school experience to the mix. “This year’s team as a whole is focused, close-knit and has the dynamics to be one of Lowell’s best,” coach Joe Rodenbucher said. In addition to the upperclassmen, Brown is expected to make an immediate impact at the varsity level.
Gymnast to watch: Kylee Maxwell, So.
Outlook: Maxwell again is her school's only competitor. She’ll be looking to make a return to the state meet, where she finished tied for fifth all-around as a freshman with top-10 finishes in vault, balance beam and floor exercise.
-- compiled by Michael Raines