SVSJ preview: MSHS gymnastics, in new digs, aims to continue to be among the strong teams in Kingco 4A

EDITOR’S NOTE: Good morning and happy Thanksgiving from us. We have for you our first Mount Si High School winter sports preview of the season today – from their gymnastics team. A new era begins this fall with the move into the new gymnasium. How has that impacted things? Find out now here.

Mount Si High School’s gymnastics program, like all of their other winter sports programs, saw significant change during the offseason as the result of their relocation into the new school gymnasium and subsequent demolition of the old one on the MSHS campus in Snoqualmie. And their change may have been the most significant of all – in the old building, they were on the main floor in the newer auxiliary gym (which was demolished right after their season ended last year) and had a dedicated storage space they were able to move their equipment in and out of relatively smoothly. This year, though, and going forward, they are upstairs in the secondary gymnasium of the new building, and that has presented some challenges moving equipment. But the team’s two senior captains think things are going well.

“We’re getting used to it. It was an adjustment, but I think that it’s working pretty well,” Tylor Zwifelhofer said. Her co-captain Lauren Bennetts also thinks the move helped the program. “I actually think it benefited us in a way because we had to adapt to the change and I think that’s going to help us when we have to go to new schools and compete with new equipment,” she said. The two senior captains and their fellow co-captain Jillian Bludworth anchor a solid group of athletes back for coach Kelly Loranger’s fifth season as head coach with the Wildcat program. Loranger expects to work well with her senior leaders this season. “It’s just fun because of the fact that I’ve been with them for so long,” Loranger, a veteran local gymnastics instructor who’s worked with the trio since all three were little, said. “This group I’ve known for basically their entire life.”

Zwifelhofer is the only returner back who made state last season – the other two, Shelby Johnson and Sidney Aspinall, were among eight seniors who graduated back in June, so those senior losses will hurt. But other schools – North Creek in particular – also lost significant senior leadership, so Kingco 4A could be wide open this season. Where does Mount Si stand? “I still feel like we’re at the same spot as we were last year,” Loranger said.

A couple of potentially key newcomers to watch are sophomores Vanessa Caluori and Kaitlyn Holt. Both were part of the program last season as freshmen, but did not compete for different reasons – Caluori due to outside commitments and Holt due to an injury. But Loranger expects to see both contribute. Of Caluori, the coach said, “She does have really good skills coming in.” As for Holt, she’s of course coming off a tremendous fall season in which she finished 10th in the state girls’ 4A diving meet after only competing in that event for half the season. “I expect her to be all-around and she’ll be really good coming in,” Loranger said.

The leadership role the senior trio of Bennetts, Zwiefelhofer and Bludworth will fill will be a big one this season. Bennetts is looking to continue on the same track as the previous senior leadership. “I think that we’re really trying to fulfill what our captains did last year. I think in the past we’ve had really positive and helpful captains and we just want to be able to match what they did,” she said. “This year we’re spending a lot of time talking to the team, seeing what they need, what they want and then we’re going from there.” Zwiefelhofer added, “It’s a lot about communication I think, ’cause we just have to make sure we’re all connected as a team.”

The floor exercise will once again be the event to watch at Mount Si home meets, of which there’s two of those this season, both after the holiday break in January. Holt thinks the key to success is just enjoying it. “I just think actually have fun in your routine and not be so serious and just go with the music and clap along,” she said. “I think that in the past we’ve had issues with really enjoying floor because it’s not personally our strongest event but we’re just really focusing on the energy that we’re bringing to floor,” Bennetts added. “We want the fans to notice we’re having a good time because if they see that, then they’ll have a good time.”

All three anticipate Mount Si making a push to the SeaKing District meet this winter. Considering how wide open this league might be, that is definitely possible. But their coach has higher goals in mind. “State again. I think that we’ll get some girls to qualify to state and we’ll be back at Sammamish in February,” Loranger said.

The season opens next Thursday night against Bothell and Eastlake at Bellevue High School, then they’ll see the Sammamish High School facility that will be the state venue once again this season on December 12 when they meet Woodinville and Redmond. The home meets are January 9 against Newport and North Creek, and then again on January 30 against Issaquah. Meets are scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. and will run around two hours or so at Mount Si’s main gymnasium.

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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