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Veteran competitors, skilled newcomers propel Lady Highlanders

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:56 p.m.

The Baldwn gymnastics team is a solid mix of veteran competitors and skilled newcomers this season.

The combination has proven to be highly successful so far.

Baldwin defeated North Allegheny and Pine-Richland last week to improve to 5-0 overall as a team.

“We have a nice mix of new competitors and veteran gymnasts. We are hoping that our newer competitors will learn from and gain confidence from our gymnasts returning from last year,” Karen Krieger, Baldwin's head coach, said. “We have a ton of potential on the team this season. We are hoping to have the girls right where they need to be to be contenders for the state title within the next month.”

The Lady Highlanders are led by sophomore standout Josie Karabinos, who was a Pennsylvania Classic gold division and WPIAL all-around champion last year.

Senior leadership is being provided by the trio of Fallon Ferrari, Arisai May and Maura Costa. Ferrari placed second on the WPIAL Intermediate II bars last season.

The remainder team members are underclassmen. Nikki Gorecki, Ashley Rebel and Carrie Mangan are sophomores, while Shelly Donahue and Alexis Cadwallader are top freshman prospects.

Baldwin claimed third place in the WPIAL in the final team scoring with 137.675 overall points last year.

Two of the team strengths this season are the Lady Highlanders' prowess on the vault and floor exercise events.

“Definitely,” Krieger said. “We have some very powerful gymnasts, and they have the potential and consistency to produce very high scores on those two events.

“Once again this year, we need to work on our beam (event).”

The Lady Highlanders are scheduled to host rival Moon tomorrow, Friday, at 7 p.m. at Premier Gym and Cheer; then will begin preparing for the Moon Invitational.

“During the early part of the season we (have been) working repetitive routines,” said Krieger, who again is assisted by Jodi Cummings. “The only way to increase confidence, consistency, strength and skill level is by running routines over and over.

“Jodi and I are very excited for the potential of this team. The next month will be a lot of hard work for these young ladies, but hopefully it will pay off for them in the end.”

The WPIAL championship meet is slated for Feb. 9, followed by the Pennsylvania Classic on Feb. 15 and 16.

“We have many girls on the team who will be in contention for both individual and state titles,” Krieger said. “But right now we are focusing strictly on the team. We need each girl to improve her individual scores to increase our team score.

“We are about four points off (team-wise) from where we need to be. In order to reach our goal, each girl will need to increase her routine (point-total) by two-tenths, which is very possible.”

Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5820 or rfisher@tribweb.com.

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