Thomas Jefferson gymnasts take aim at defending state title
By: Ray Fisher
Friday, December 21, 2018 | 9:45 PM
The Baldwin and Thomas Jefferson gymnastic teams share the same coaches and same gym. They also have similar goals.
“We have a large program for both schools this year,” said coach Jodi Cummings, who is assisted by Sam Duttine, Becky Revo and volunteer coach Kristen Weber. “We have been working on consistency with both teams, adding new and exciting skills to impress the judges and the crowd.
“We have high hopes for both teams. Our goal is to get both teams qualified into the WPIAL team championship meet in February.”
Thomas Jefferson has won two consecutive section titles and placed second in the WPIAL for the past two seasons. The Jaguars are aiming to move up a notch on the WPIAL ladder in 2018-19.
TJ is led by seniors Angelina Gambino, Adara Getsy, Courtney Kelley and Kylie McCormick; along with juniors Jade Conway, Maria Costa, Natalie Galioto, Demi Kondos and Natalie Moore.
“It is so exciting that our team has grown to 15 gymnasts now,” Galioto said. “I have high expectations for us this season although we have a few injured. We have all worked so hard this summer and fall leading up to this competition season. I can’t wait to see what this season brings the TJ gymnastics team. This is a great group of girls.
“Personally, I have made many upgrades to my routines from last season. This will be a challenging but exciting year for me as I have moved up from level 9 to level 10 on my club team. My high school coaches have been very supportive and a crucial part of my success with these new skills.”
There also are three sophomores — Erin Grueber, Jackie Gunther and Anna Weber — and three freshmen — Kamryn Kameg, Kaylee Rehak and Sophia Stoicovy — in the Jaguars’ program.
“We have a large TJ team this year, and we are strong all-around,” Cummings said. “We have been plagued with some injuries. Courtney Kelley hurt her knee at the end of summer. Kamryn Kameg hurt her foot a few weeks ago. Those girls were going to be contributing to our team score in a big way, so the other girls have had to step it up to fill the gap.”
Last year, the TJ girls won the first state championship in gymnastics in school history, taking first place in the gold division at the Pennsylvania Classic.
Galioto finished first on bars and beam, fifth in floor and third all-around in the diamond division.
The Jaguars placed second in the gold division two years ago in their first season of team competition.
Carrick junior Ashtyn Grill also practices and travels with the TJ and Baldwin gymnasts.
Both TJ and Baldwin opened the season Dec. 14 at home with rousing victories against Hopewell and South Side Beaver.
“It was a great way to start the season,” Cummings said. “We had some great performances from both teams.
“Both teams posted high scores, and we have room for improvement. We know what we need to work on and look forward to improving our team scores.”
Galioto sparkled for the Jaguars with a 37.7 all-around score, posting a 9.6 on the vault event, 9.15 on bars, 9.5 on beam, 9.45 on floor.
“Our hard work paid off at our first meet,” Galioto said. “Although we had a few falls here and there, as a whole we were still able to exceed our expectations. We had five new girls start, and those able to compete proved they are more than ready for their first high school season. The gymnasts who have competed in the past certainly did not let us down. They were amazing.
“And I was thrilled after this first meet when I was able to hit all of my routines in competition. There still is lots of room for improvement, but I am up for the challenge.”
Kondos carded a 9.55 on vault and 9.4 on beam, while Moore racked up a 9.7 in the vault.
Other impressive individual performances were by Weber, Getsy, Gambino and Rehak, who had a 9.0 on beam.
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.