During the daytime their school colors vary, but come practice and meet time, these athletes vie for big scores as a team.
This year’s Port Angeles High gymnastics squad has a distinct, cross-peninsula vibe with eight Roughriders joined by Sequim Wolves and a Crescent athlete.
“It’s as if we’re one team during the regular season,” coach Jackie Mangano said last week, as her team prepped for their first meet of the 2021-2022 season.
“We’re all one big team, one big family; it’s really, really great,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s like that with other schools with a co-op.”
Because Sequim athletes don’t have an official team and equipment they’re allowed to join with their “Rival” school for regular season meets, and then compete for Sequim High in postseason meets.
“Sequim’s just growing,” Mangano said. “They could potentially could move on as a team (to districts).”
Two of the squad’s team captains are Sequim High seniors, including Ellie Turner, a fourth-year athlete, and Alex Schmadeke, a second-year athlete who recently signed a letter to compete in acrobatics and tumbling at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Other Sequim athletes on the team include: senior Danica Pierson, a fourth-year competitor, Kori Miller, a third-year junior, and two sophomores in their second season with the team: Amara Brown and Susannah Sharp.
Port Angeles High competitors include senior/team captain Mei-Ying Harper-Smith, junior Alezandra Fitzsimmons, sophomores Maddie Adams, Faith Carr, Yau Fu and Kathryn Jones, and freshman Jessamyn Schindler. Crescent High School senior Aubrie Scott rounds out the roster.
In her ninth year with the squad, Mangano takes a step back and will be co-coaching with head coach Rachel Sharp, with volunteer coach Julie Haguewood assisting.
As for expectations, Mangano anticipates a number of athletes moving on through districts to the state final — something last year’s team members couldn’t do after the COVID pandemic shut down all postseason meets.
“Unfortunately for our seniors — that was really sad,” Mangano said.
“The postseason means more to them; (it’s) a little more exciting,” she said. “They get to see a different caliber of athletes than we see in the league.”
This year’s crew has a good deal of experience and youth mixed in.
“We will definitely have individuals go through … to state,” Mangano said. “I don’t know if we’ll get through as a team.”
Most non-league events are off the schedule as well; this year the combined squad will see three other schools at the Sehome Invite in Bellingham on Jan. 8. Otherwise it’s familiar competitors from Bainbridge, Kingston and North Kitsap.
The team saw its first action of the season Dec. 17 at Bainbridge. Following winter break, it’s the Sehome Invite, followed by back-to-back home meets against Kingston (Jan. 12) and Bainbridge (Jan. 19).
Team competes in first meet
The combined Sequim-Port Angeles-Crescent gymnastics team took on host Bainbridge on Dec. 17, with the Spartans defeating the Olympic Peninsula team 151.90-123.00.
“We were missing three of our varsity girls for various reasons, but despite that, the team performed well and we are very proud of them,” assistant coach Jackie Mangano said.
Port Angeles freshman Jessamyn Schindler starred for the team, placing third in all-around scoring with30.10 points. She was third on floor exercise (8.2), vault (8.1) and bars (6.3), and fourth on beam (7.5)