Patriot gymnasts stumble against Mount Si Wildcats
December 22, 2009
By Dan Catchpole
Liberty High School gymnasts came home for their first home meet this season to face Mount Si, last year’s 3A KingCo Conference champion. With a young team and new assistant coach, the Patriots were overmatched by the Wildcats, who took the Dec. 17 meet 160.05-145.5.
Despite the loss, which dropped the Patriots record to 1-1, it was a good night for the program, said Shannon Van Selus, the team’s new assistant coach.
The Liberty team has a core of experienced older girls, but is mostly made up of girls with only a few years in competitive gymnastics. None of the new girls compete in club gymnastics during the off-season. But head coach Lori Copenhaver said she sees potential.
“For what they’re coming in with and their motivation to work, I feel really good about the program,” she said.
She and Van Selus have focused on building the girls’ fundamentals, while expanding their repertoire.“We’ve come up with some unique acrobats,” Van Selus said, referring to new moves and combinations that the team has learned.
Senior co-captain Cortney Schirman showed off her ability during her floor exercise, which combined her tumbling strength with tight precision and control.
“I just wanted to perform and show all the fans what the gymnastics team is all about this year,” she said after her routine, which followed a rough performance on the balance beam.
Out on the floor, Schirman said she focused on “making everything big.”
“It came down to her form — being tight. That’s what made her different,” Van Selus said.
Schirman’s effort wasn’t lost on the judge, who awarded her a 9.1, tied for first with Mount Si’s Kennedy Richmond.
Schirman also tied with Mount Si’s Rachel Karavias for third in the vault with 8.4.
Despite Schirman’s solid performance, the Wildcats’ swept the top three all-around rankings for the meet.
As one of Liberty’s few seniors, Schirman is a leader on the team.
Even with many new faces on the team and a new assistant coach, there’s more team camaraderie and a “more easy going feel” this year, she said.
While reinforcing the basics, the coaches are pushing the girls’ technical abilities. During her floor exercise, senior Miranda Jones incorporated a new combination she had learned the night before. She linked a round-off tuck jump with a back jump.
“That was pretty amazing,” said Van Selus, who competed in high school gymnastics and has some ballet background.
“We kind of complement each other with our different styles,” Copenhaver said.
As the new assistant coach, Van Selus has become the team’s taskmaster. One of her first encounters with the team was when she announced early in preseason practice that she had scrapped all of the music for their floor routines and any new music would have to be approved by her.
Regardless of what their music is, Schirman said she is excited about her teammates.
“Everyone’s a good asset this year,” she said.