North Allegheny gymnastics needs group effort this season

By: HSSN Staff
Thursday, January 3, 2019 | 10:09 PM


Kelsey O’Neill is happy to have her old job back after padding her resume with a different experience last year.

A Lisfranc injury forced the North Allegheny junior gymnast to take a 10-month break from the sport. O’Neill, who was dealing with her longest sabbatical from the sport since she started at age 2, became team manager for the Tigers.

“It was cool to see how everything works, team-wise,” O’Neill said.

“Everyone is working together when you can’t be there, but you are still learning. There were some things I saw other teams do I thought we could work into our team.”

North Allegheny wants to utilize all available tools to build a WPIAL championship team.

The Tigers, who opened the season Jan. 3 in a meet at Jewart’s Gymnastics Center vs. Hampton and Baldwin, finished third at districts last season.

Winning will require contributions from a roster devoid of seniors. North Allegheny lost Alicia Hinnebusch, who captured the WPIAL title in the floor competition, to graduation.

Four of the Tigers gymnasts compete only during high school season and don’t do club.

Having those type of athletes is something North Allegheny coach Nicole Bova enjoys.

“They are really self-motivated,” Bova said. “This is something they want to do. They want to work hard to get skills to make up a routine. They want it for themselves.”

As a freshman, O’Neill led North Allegheny at WPIALs by recording a team-high score in the vault with a 9. She finished with an all-around score of 25.775.

While vault was a strong point already, O’Neill wanted to add more variety.

“I think I’m better at it, skill-wise,” O’Neill said. “Since the last time I competed in high school, I’m doing a different vault. When I was a freshman, I did a Tsukahara, and I’m doing a Yurchenko instead.”

O’Neill hopes North Allegheny will continue learning.

The Tigers would like to parlay that into a few more medals.

“My biggest thing for them is wanting to have fun and for them to be as consistent in competition as they are in the gym,” Bova said.

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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