Hampton gymnastics hopes bigger roster means more success
By: Devon Moore
Thursday, December 27, 2018 | 7:57 PM
Hampton gymnastics is hoping an increase in numbers can lead to an increase in wins.
With a team that has more than doubled in size from last year, sixth-year coach Kinsey Basko has options and flexibility, luxuries he hasn’t been afforded the past few years.
“At one point, every kid is working toward the team score,” he said. “Last year and years before, I only had to count certain people because of numbers or availability of skills. This year it’s going to be easier to move things around and build up more points.”
The program saw early success, winning WPIAL titles in 2015 and ’16, just its second and third years of existence.
But the program suffered setbacks when all-around champion Katrina Jones was forced to stop competing because of a career-threatening injury. Numbers recently dwindled, and the team ended the season last year with three girls.
The team welcomed four freshmen: Ruby Copelin, Annaelise Craig, Taylor Fiscus and Riley Howard. All are contributing in all four events. Basko said Howard, in particular, is one to watch moving forward.
“It’s really nice, especially because all of us go to Jewart’s (Gymnastics),” sophomore Hannah Schepner said. “We all knew each other from before. It’s nice seeing the sport become more popular. Knowing more people want to do it just shows the sport is getting better.”
A new senior, Jordan McMillan, helps form a solid base of seven girls. Not that it has been an issue under Basko, whose teams made the playoffs the past two seasons despite small rosters. Last year, the team finished sixth at the WPIAL championships.
“The goal as always is to make playoffs and make finals,” he said. “It’s nice we have enough kids that I can rotate the lineup, so I have adjustability right now.”
Basko also might have his next star in Schepner, who posted a first-place finish at the team’s first meet against Moon and Pine-Richland.
“She’s been killing it,” Basko said. “We don’t do individual awards at meets, but we do get printouts and scores. … She’s going to be the one to look out for as we head to WPIALs for individuals.”
Schepner overcame ankle surgery two years ago to have a solid freshman season. She is excited to see the team growth, particularly with all girls she trains with at Jewart’s in Hampton Township.
“Going into the meet, I wasn’t expecting to win,” she said. “We started on bars, and I stayed confident throughout the meet. Throughout my events I just kept getting better scores. The environment in the gym was really positive, so that really helped.”
Fellow sophomore Rhiannon Wagner also returns with an increased skill set, and McMillan returns after taking years off for cheerleading.
“She’s stepped right back in where she left off and is doing pretty good,” Basko said.
The team will be without junior Jenna Zabroski, who is out for the season with an injury.
Devon Moore is a freelance writer.