The Saint Francis Prep Terriers gymnastics team — the reigning Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) champions — won their first two meets of the season against the Kellenberg Firebirds and the Holy Trinity Titans last week.
Each gymnast has their strengths on the four apparatuses they compete on: vault, uneven bars, balance beam and the floor routine. Head Coach Kamla Modi strategizes the Terriers’ event lineup according to many factors including the competition as well as her gymnasts’ strengths and capabilities, which vary by day due to common injuries in the sport.
Two days after defeating Kellenberg 164.5-157.9 on October 2, the Terriers beat Holy Trinity 166.55-152.35 on Thursday, October 4. Led by sophomore Khayla Martinez-Reyes, junior Veronica Cusack and seniors Jennifer Nicola, Alexis Holuka and captain Marisa Marden, the Terriers were productive on each apparatus.
Martinez-Reyes, who will represent the Terriers individually at the championships, held at The Prep this year on Saturday, October 27, performed beautifully on each apparatus, notably the uneven bars and the vault.
“Since I was four [years old] I just loved doing crazy flips and moves – just natural to me,” Martinez-Reyes said.
Cusack performed an admirable beam routine and capped off her night with a flawless floor routine.
“It’s pretty difficult,” Cusack said of the beam routine. “Most of it is staying focused on what you have to do and not psyching yourself out.”
The floor routine’s difficulty is the choreography and mixing dance moves with gymnastic elements. Cusack explained her process for the floor routine, “I first listen to the music and then see what kind of dances I can do with it and any type of style that would go with the tango.”
Cusack chose tango music this season. Each gymnast picks out her own music for her floor routine.
Holuka also had a sound floor routine, following a difficult beam.
“I did get hurt during [the beam], but I pulled through and did what I did,” said an enthusiastic Holuka. She explained that she got an “adrenaline rush” after her beam routine leading into her floor routine.
The close-knit team looks to the captain, Marden, for advice.
After the meet on October 4, Marden said, “Today I told them: don’t give up, don’t slack, we still need to work hard.”
The Terriers have a total of six meets, competing against three different teams this season before the championships, where each team in the CHSAA competes in team and individual events.
“I think we have a good chance of winning championships again this year, so I am very excited,” Marden said.