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Jacaruso’s an All-Around Contributor at Valley
Sophomore Grace Jacaruso played a key role in helping the Valley Regional gymnastics squad capture the Shoreline Conference title this year. Grace also competes for the Warriors’ girls’ cross country and outdoor track teams. (Photo courtesy of Grace Jacaruso )
Grace Jacaruso has been an integral part of the Valley Regional gymnastics team during the past two seasons. This year, the Warriors claimed the Shoreline Conference title thanks in large part to the sophomore’s contributions to the squad. Grace also competes at Flip-Flop Gymnastics as part of the Xcel program and has done so for several years. On top of that, she’s a member of Valley’s girls’ cross country and outdoor track teams.
Grace started doing gymnastics at a young age alongside her triplet sisters Margaret and Maddie. In the years since then, Grace has stuck with gymnastics as her sisters have moved on to other athletic pursuits. Grace enjoyed competing for Valley the last two years, because there is a similar vibe to what she has experienced with Flip-Flop’s Xcel program, where she’s seen great success.
“When I was in 8th grade, I was in Xcel Gold. I was a state champion that year, and that was pretty exciting. I actually got a 9.6 in bars, which is usually my weakest event. I think that’s what put me over the top in that,” Grace says. “I was going to do Levels, but since I do so many other sports, I decided to do Xcel instead. It’s the same events as Levels would be, but it’s a bit more mellow version of that.”
Grace has built upon her success throughout her high school career. When the Warriors secured the top spot at the Shoreline Conference Championship, Grace turned a strong all-around total of 31.0 by scoring an 8.3 on vault, an 8.05 for the floor, a 7.45 on beam, and a 7.2 on bars. Grace and her teammates felt ecstatic when they heard that they were victorious.
“Shorelines was really exciting. We just improved so much from last year, and that was really exciting, too. I feel like at high school meets, everyone is just so supportive of each other,” says Grace, who lives in Essex. “I just tried to do my best. I knew my routines and just did the best I could. I remember I felt really good, especially on vault. At that meet, I definitely stuck it. I did well on floor and bars, too.”
Grace’s strongest events are the vault and floor. Each event requires different skills, but Grace really likes everything that goes into a floor routine.
“Especially during high school, I think vault is my strongest. When I was younger, I felt I liked floor the most. I might still like floor the most, but I also really like vault,” Grace says. “I like floor a lot, because I like tumbling. I feel like vault and floor also require a lot of strength. I like learning the floor routines. They’re a lot of fun.”
Head Coach Monica Bauer has known Grace since Grace began her gymnastics career. Bauer is impressed with how Grace has continued to improve as a gymnast over the years.
“Grace is great kid that comes from a great family. It’s been nice to see her grow in the gym not just as an athlete, but into a great person. She’s a really well-rounded athlete,” says Bauer. “I would say floor is her best event. I think she has fun with the choreography in her routine, and she likes to perform. I think she was a good role model and the kids looked up to her, because she competes in all four events and she was one of our strongest competitors.”
In addition to gymnastics, Grace began running with Valley’s cross country program. It was a new experience for Grace, and she became fond of spending time on the trails with her teammates. Grace fared well in her first year with the Warriors by running a top time of 21 minutes and 12 seconds.
“This is my first year doing it, and it was fun. I was second on the team of the girls, so that was pretty exciting,” says Grace. “I feel really close with everyone. It’s tiring, but I feel like I like running the longer distances. Our state’s trail for cross country is really pretty, up at Wickham Park.”
Grace also competes for the Valley girls’ outdoor track team. Grace ran the 400 and the 800 during her freshman season. If she gets the opportunity this spring, Grace would like to try out long-distance races.
“Last year, I did mid-distance. I ran the 400 and the 800, mostly. I tried a lot of races, as it was my freshman year,” Grace says. “I think I want to try to run in the mile and two-mile events, because I have more experience with cross country now. I probably like cross country a little bit more at this point. It’s really fun, because it’s a smaller team. That makes it fun when you go on runs together.”
Grace is looking forward to continuing her career at Valley Regional in the coming years. Grace was pleased that the gymnastics team showed such huge improvement during the recent season. With more athletes getting involved, Grace believes that the Warriors will continue trending upward.
“I hope everyone is coming back. There are a few freshmen looking to sign up,” Grace says. “I think we’ll be pretty good next year.”