Mentor Gymnastics Team Upstages Its Host with Win
Mentor Cardinals took the top spot in a 6-team tournament Wednesday at West Geauga High School
It can be considered rude to take center stage as an invited guest, but Mentor's gymnastics team was not concerned with manners Wednesday night when it outperformed the competition at West Geauga High School.
Scoring 132.75 team points behind the performances of juniors Allie Arthur and Alex Aiello, the Cardinals pushed the host Wolverines into second place; Chardon's Hilltoppers, Perry's Pirates, Chagrin Falls' Tigers and Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin's Lions took third through sixth, in that order.
Gymnasts are scored by judges in four events, and Arthur took first in vault (9.0 average), uneven parallel bars (8.9) and floor exercise (9.15). In the event she did not win, the beam, she finished second (8.9). Her 35.95 total score was best of the night.
Her teachers would be pleased that, despite the win in front of about 50 spectators, class was still on her mind. “I'm happy. It's mid-term week and I'm still awake,” she said. “Tomorrow's my hardest test so I'm not really into this. But I came out and did my best.”
This year's team has just eight members, a low number for such a large school. “There's been a lot injuries this year,” said Arthur, involved in the sport since she was 5. “It's kind of taken over the team, so you really have to step up. But it makes you do your best because you know you don't have a score to fall back on. When you have five other people competing, you have to do the best you can.”
While six gymnasts typically compete, only the top four scores are counted toward the team.
Junior Kayla Kosmerl is one of the wounded, having torn her labrum and bicep tendon this season. She still keeps in good spirits, though, cheering on teammates. “I'm upset I can't help score-wise, but I have to do as much as I can not score-wise for them, like hold mats. Whatever I can do,” she said.
Kosmerl is optimistic for a full recovery next season. She has already broken her ankle, then later sprained it while competing.
“I like practicing and learning new skills and getting good scores,” she said. “And I like the bars a lot, and the beam. I don't know why I like the bars. But with the beam, when you do great it feels great because it's so hard.”
Megan Mertz, one of Mentor's two coaches, remembers when there were 23 girls on the squad. A 2005 Mentor graduate whose team finished third in the state, Mertz was also a college gymnast for Ohio University's Club Team, and she's happy to be back.
“I just love it, it's so much fun,” she said, stopping to shout encouragement to her Cardinals on the bars. Due to schools' limited resources for gymnastics, Mentor shares its coaches with Perry, Willoughby-South, Lake Catholic and Riverside, meaning Mertz helps with those programs, as well.
“I coach the floor and beam mostly, and this is going to sound so dumb, but it's because they're mostly girly, dancy routines,” she said.
Alex Aiello's performance put her third overall in the competition. Junior Brittany Adkins is the team captain. (The team has no seniors). Lauren Cannon, Brianna Latta and Analee Loecy were the other Mentor competitors this night.
Mertz said it's frustrating that the school is not as helpful with the program as she believes it could be.
The sport is one that a lot of people don't really understand, Allie Arthur added.
“I remember a Mentor teacher once saying how hard gymnastics was because his daughter is in it,” she said, then laughed: “I love that teacher ever since.”
Mentor will next compete Jan. 22 at the Worthington Kilbourne Invitational. Ohio sectionals are Feb. 19.