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01/15/2022 11:00 PM

Valley Gymnastics Features Deep and Experienced Team

Senior Grace Jacaruso is leading the Valley Regional girls’ gymnastics team as a captain for the second-straight campaign this winter. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

The Valley Regional girls’ gymnastics team has only competed in one meet during the 2022 season, but Head Coach Monica Bauer’s squad is off to a solid start this winter.

Valley hosted a quad-meet at Flip-Flop Gymnastics in Deep River for its season opener on Dec. 30. The Warriors defeated two of their three opponents, posting victories against Stonington and the H-K/Morgan/Westbrook co-op at the meet. Valley recorded team score of 123.85 points to earn wins over Stonington (120.9) and H-K/Morgan/Westbrook (90.45), while also taking a loss versus Mercy (128.80).

“This was not bad for our first meet of the season,” Coach Bauer said. “It was an early meet, and we had some of our stronger competitors out. I think the team will improve their confidence, routines, and scores as the season progresses. I’m looking forward to working with them and seeing their growth.”

The Warriors have seen some of their athletes get sidelined during the early portion of their season, resulting in a few meets being rescheduled. Despite these setbacks, Coach Bauer believes that Valley is going to be a competitive team throughout the duration of its season.

“Practice has been going well,” said Bauer. “Unfortunately, we have had some kids out with COVID, and the return-to-play policy puts the kids out of competition for two weeks. We did not compete last week due to exams, so we are looking forward to the meet on [Saturday] Jan. 22.”

Valley’s roster for the 2022 season features senior captain Grace Jacaruso, along with fellow seniors Erin Ward and Chelsea Hayes. The Warriors’ junior class includes Julie Hartt, Kendra Cika, Isabella Giuliano, and Lily Glaski.

Sienna Joplin is a sophomore on the squad, and freshmen Holly Board and Corina Pagliuco are also members of the team. Senior Reagan Furgueson is serving as Valley’s team manager.

“We have a good-sized and very talented team. We are hoping everyone stays healthy and can compete,” Bauer said. “Our upperclassmen have improved since last year and are more confident. We have some good leaders in the group.”

Coach Bauer said that the Warriors will be relying heavily on senior captain Jacaruso this year. Bauer described Jacaruso, an all-around competitor, as the heart and soul of the program. Valley’s coach added the Warriors are welcoming a talented cast of up-and-coming gymnastics to the fold.

“We are looking forward to working with our new freshmen. They will bring a lot to the table,” said Bauer. “Holly will be one to keep an eye on floor, and Corina is a new freshman that will contribute an all-around score toward the team, specializing on beam. We are hopeful to qualify to states this year.”

Jacaruso said that she’s excited about competing for a team that features a great deal of depth. Valley also has an experienced roster, and Jacaruso is looking forward to leading her teammates in any way she can.

“We finally have a big team this year with a lot of talented gymnasts, and I think we’ll do really well,” Jacaruso said. “A lot of us are older and have been on the team for three or four years, so we have a lot of experience, but we also have a lot of talented underclassmen who I’m excited to see compete. I’ve been competing with a lot of these girls since middle school, so I can’t wait to be with them for my last season on the team.”

As she enters her second year as Valley’s captain, Jacaruso’s goal is to cherish every meet that the team has this season. Jacaruso understands the struggle that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented for the team over the past two years, and so she wants the Warriors to compete in every meet like it’s their last.

“Being a captain of the Valley gymnastics team has been great so far. I have some experience, because I was the captain last year and was also a two-year captain for the cross-country team, but I’ve had a lot more fun as a captain this year, because we have had a more normal season,” said Jacaruso. “All of the girls are so supportive of one another, and I’ve loved competing with them for the past few years. I’m really honored to be a captain for such a great group of girls, and I can’t wait to see where this season takes us.”

Valley has seven meets scheduled for the remainder of its campaign. With Coach Bauer also helming the H-K/Morgan/Westbrook program, some of Valley’s competitions will come against Bauer’s other squad.

“Most of the athletes attend my private club, so it’s not really too difficult managing multiple teams,” Bauer said. “I am familiar with all of their skills, and it’s fun being able to work with so many different kids.”

Senior Erin Ward and the Warriors took two out of three when they hosted their season-opening meet at Flip-Flop Gymnastics. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier
Kendra Cika enters her junior year as a member of a Valley gymnastics squad that features a deep roster for the 2022 season. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier