Baldwin gymnasts ready to defend championship

Sunday, January 17, 2021 | 9:01 AM

The tag “defending state champion” provides awe-inspiring incentive for the Baldwin gymnasts in 2020-21.

This season, the Highlanders are looking to retain their Pennsylvania Classic team title in the silver division.

“We hope to be able to qualify for WPIALs and defend our state title,” coach Jodi Cummings said. “Each gymnast will have her job to do on each event to make our team successful.”

There are two seniors on the sqad. Bailey Harding is in her third year in the program; Leah Revo is a first-year gymnast.

Harding, who is recovering from a back injury, aims to join the lineup before the end of the season.

“The pandemic has been very disruptive to the gymnastics season and the months leading up to it,” Harding said. “Gymnastics is a sport that takes a lot of physical and mental strength, and the restrictions to the time allowed in the gym have pushed us to work even harder to regain that strength.

“As a senior, my personal goal for this season is to recover from my injury in time to compete at least once. It would be devastating to miss out on my very last gymnastics season. I hope to get back to practicing and competing as soon as possible.”

Harding participated in gymnastics through her grade school and middle school days. She is president of the service club at Baldwin and is a member of the National Honor Society. Her GPA is 3.8.

She said her favorite event is the floor exercise.

“You get to show your personality in your routine,” Harding said.

Revo brings a competitive edge to the gymnastics program. She has been a member of Baldwin’s swim program since her freshman season.

She is tackling both gymnastics and swimming this winter, scurrying back and forth from Premier Gym to the high school pool.

“This being my first year (in gymnastics), my goal is just to make it through my events,” Revo said. “This year it will be different — having to wear masks and no spectators — but I think we are all happy to still have a season.

“As a team, hopefully we will get to go to states.”

Revo has a 3.6 GPA and said her favorite event is the parallel bars.

Along with the two seniors, there are three juniors and three freshmen competing for Baldwin. There are no sophomores on the team.

Emily Schwab, Haley Staab and Abbey Herrle are junior gymnasts; Katie O’Neill, Ashley Brown and Grace Iaquinta are freshman prospects.

“I hope to see all the girls have fun and make the most out of the current situation,” Harding said. “I will be there cheering them on, and I’m beyond excited to see what this season has in store.”

The Baldwin and Thomas Jefferson gymnasts train and compete together at Premier Gym, where they are coached by Cummings, assistant Becky Revo and volunteer Kristen Weber.

“We did not have any meets in December because of the shutdown,” Cummings said. “The pandemic has had a huge effect on our teams. We have had some gymnasts that decided to take a break, we haven’t been in the gym nearly as much as we usually are, we have had meets canceled and we have to wear masks at all times, even during routines. But the only thing that matters is the safety of our gymnasts and the fact we are still able to be in the gym doing what we love.

“It’s not the easiest to watch them struggle with endurance because they haven’t been in the gym a lot, or lose a trick they’ve done for years because of a lack of practice. But in the end they are still doing what they love. My girls have very little complaints about all the rules and just go with the flow. I always remind them that at least we are together doing gymnastics. We will get through this together and it will make us all stronger in the end.”

Leah Revo said the Highlanders are grateful to be back in the gym and have worked diligently since returning to practice.

“We were not permitted in the gym during the December shutdown,” she said. “We did lose practice time but we have been working hard with the time we were given.”

Other area gymnasts training independently at Premier include sophomores Ashlyn Cummings (Elizabeth Forward), Cassidy Rega (Seton LaSalle) and Scarlett Valley (Peters Township). Rega was the WPIAL Intermediate II vault winner as a freshman.

Baldwin secured first place on silver division vault, bars and floor at last year’s Pennsylvania Classic and has won nine state titles in gymnastics. The Highlanders also have earned three WPIAL crowns in school history.

The lone senior on last year’s squad, Alaina Wodarek, is a freshman cheerleader at Morehead State.

Wodarek also was a captain on the WPIAL championship competitive spirit squad at Baldwin in 2019-20.


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