WARSAW – Some coaches like to rally the troops with the call of ‘all hands on deck’. Warsaw gymnastics coach Tonya Douglass doesn’t have a choice.
Warsaw brings in a scant four gymnasts into its 2019-20 season with literally no margin for error. While three gymnasts are needed to score in the team format, typically four will perform each routine at the varsity level. While the optics might lend to a mega-stressful scenario in duals, Douglass sees it as possibly a blessing in disguise.
“We’re going with the mentality that we want each girl to excel in their own areas,” Douglass said. “At the end of the day, see where we stand. We want to go out and show that even though we are small, we can still put up some good scores.”
Senior Daylen Turner leads the group, now in her fourth year of varsity competition. Turner placed as high as 15th last year at the Wawasee Sectional, scoring 8.8 on floor. Turner also had an 8.35 on vault and 7.85 on beam in her tournament showing.
“Daylen has stepped up and become that role model and leader you want to see out of seniors,” Douglass said. “She’s really stepped up to the plate and been very supportive of her teammates. She has some goals for her senior year and she really wants to meet these goals. I think you’ll see her take a big step forward this year.”
A pair of sophomores are next in Sydni Purvis and Jullianne Olson. Purvis returns with a year of varsity service after bumping around between events on a regular basis last winter. Douglass feels Purvis should be able to contribute some good scores in the all-around having some competition experience in all of the disciplines a year ago. Olson was a JV performer last season and will require some time to adjust, but Douglass again feels Olson can adapt quickly to an all-around schedule.
“Sydni has some varsity experience under her belt and should be comfortable in the competing realm. She shouldn’t be as nervous,” Douglass said. “Jullianne is catching on to some of the more advanced skills and should be fun to watch get better each day.”
Erika Bugg makes up the fourth eager athlete to the roster, entering her first year of work as a freshman. Douglass likes Bugg’s progress in the offseason and feels the rookie can keep pace.
“Erika has some past experience with club and she is looking really good so far in the early season,” Douglass said. “I can see her doing really well in all-around. She is getting some of the new skills that high schoolers have to develop, and maybe not as comfortable with them yet, but she should be OK with some practice.”
Warsaw, in maybe a show of grace from the schedule makers, does not start until Tuesday, Jan. 14, in a home dual against East Noble. The extra time on the equipment can only help build some confidence ahead of what will be a tightly packed schedule that equates to about a six-week regular season before the Wawasee Sectional at the end of February.
“We’re already dealing with an injury, we’ve got a concussion, so not having a meet right away is a little bit of a blessing,” said Douglass. “Having later meets is helpful with injuries and things like that in the preseason. It gives us a little time to prepare.”