SVSJ preview: MSHS gymnasts look to contend this season in Kingco 4A, but injuries, league changes and event changes will be factors

EDITOR’S NOTE: We begin our series of winter high school sports previews today for Valley high schools with a look at Mount Si High School’s gymnastics program. Coming up in the coming days, we’ll hopefully have previews as well for the Wildcats and Cedarcrest High School’s basketball and wrestling seasons, too. So keep it here and we’ll give you a first look at the upcoming winter sports season ahead.

Mount Si High School’s gymnastics program has started off their season, and it’s very much an open question out of the gate how they will end up, as injuries have already become a focus of the early days of this 2017-18 campaign.

Back for her third season as head coach is local gymnastics veteran Kelly Loranger. She’s looking forward to the first meet. “I’m just really excited about the group of kids I have this year,” she said. “I think all around they’re amazing and I think just having all these veterans, it’ll just bring excitement and a good season.”

But, as mentioned already, injuries have cropped up, and will be a factor to start things. Among the key injuries of note is one to senior Daisy Hartman. She is nursing a knee injury, and was on crutches yesterday when the SVSJ went over to the Wildcats’ practice at Mount Si Gymnastics Academy in North Bend to conduct interviews for this preview. It is not known yet how serious the injury is, but regardless, Hartman, one of three seniors on the team this season, will continue to contribute as much as she can to the team’s success, both on and off the floor. “I’m not giving up hope yet,” she said. “Still working out with the girls, conditioning, doing everything I can. If a girl needs help with a skill, I’ll try and give my pointers. I obviously can’t do everything, but I am doing everything I can.”

The other two seniors on the team this winter are Morgan Lowell and Anna Steenvoorde. Lowell also looks to provide leadership this season for younger teammates. “Just helping them find their place on the team and improve their skills, if they need any help, just helping them out, making sure everyone has a positive attitude and having fun,” she said.

It is a young team, but one with some experience, as the Wildcats only have one freshman this winter. Maddyson Raveling comes to the program with some dance experience, according to Loranger, so she will be a factor most likely in the floor exercise, which is considered the top event for Mount Si’s gymnasts. Junior Sidney Aspinall also is new to the team this fall, after learning her craft at MSGA. “She was just competing here for Mount Si Gymnastics Academy and decided that she finally wanted to compete for the high school,” Loranger said.

Sophomore Evelyn Miller rounds out the newcomers this fall; Loranger tells the SVSJ she comes to the Wildcats with some experience in trampolines and tumbling, so look for her as well to be a factor in the floor exercise.

Shelby Johnson and Sarah Christopherson are juniors this winter, and Tylor Zwiefelhofer is back as a sophomore as well this season to round out the top returners. Both Johnson and Christopherson, according to the coach, have also dealt with injuries in the offseason, so how that impacts things is also very much an open question.

And the injury concerns are not the only issue that Mount Si has on its plate that will impact things. A big factor that could ultimately determine how the Wildcats fare is how they adjust to changes in the vault event. There are new scoring rules for the vaults this season. Lowell thinks it will force her team to change things up a bit and make their routines a little more exciting in the event. “It’s a little bit looser requirements on the twisting, so you can score higher with the twisting (off the apparatus). Last year it was almost not worth it to do a twist because you could get the same score value as if you did a front handspring,” she said. “With the twisting you can get higher scores and everyone just has to focus on learning how to do that.” The front handspring dismount is a conventional move in the event for gymnasts, whereas a twist-oriented dismount brings a little higher degree of difficulty potentially for the athletes, meaning with the new scoring, as Lowell notes, judges may reward the gymnasts more points for the routines, potentially helping the team overall in its team scores.

Another issue Mount Si has to contend with is the changing landscape of the Kingco 4A. Woodinville is expected to be the favorites once again, but a new kid on the block is expected to contend. North Creek, according to Loranger, assumed much of Bothell’s program from this past season, as many of their top athletes and coach were shifted to the new Northshore School District high school as a result of its opening and resulting school boundary changes. With that, she looks for the Jaguars to put up a strong challenge this season. Both Lowell and Hartman see Newport also as a team they’ll need to have success against for Mount Si to make it far into the postseason.

Hartman thinks the expectations should be there for a deep run. “I can definitely see us making it to districts as a team,” she said. Loranger will look to do her part as coach to help the team go far. “The goal is always to make it to state,” the coach said. “I think that’s easy for a personal goal and so I will coach them up to their level and getting them as close to that goal as possible.”

Mount Si has three home meets this season. The first is on December 7 when they host Newport, then they’ll have a pair of home dates in January – first on the 9th against Inglemoor, then Senior Night is on the 18th against Eastlake. They’ll also have meets this season at Issaquah, Skyline and Liberty High Schools, and their final regular season meet, on January 25 against the Cougars, will be at the Northwest Aerials gymnastics facility in Kirkland, 12440 128th Lane NE, located in the Totem Lake area off I-405 exit 20B.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman’s coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.

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