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Moon gymnasts chasing 3rd straight WPIAL title

| Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

The Moon gymnastics team is a loud bunch, and they're hoping to make plenty of noise at the WPIAL championships on Saturday.

The Tigers have captured the team title the past two years, and they'll be quite vocal in their quest for a three-peat, according to coach Amy Caprino.

“The girls are competing in different events all over the gym at the same time, but they're constantly cheering for each other,” Caprino said. “That helps more than anything.”

Moon's team roster is comprised of 21 gymnasts, seven of which are seniors who will be taking aim at their third WPIAL championship.

“They have their own motivation,” Caprino said of her seniors. “They'll put the added pressure on themselves.”

For Caprino, balancing the individual pressure to perform with the overall success of the team is paramount every time her team steps into the gym.

“If you keep it all about the team, you take the pressure off of any one girl,” Caprino said.

During the course of a meet, Caprino's gymnasts don't know whether their score in a particular event will even count toward the team total.

“That way, they're all going in trying to hit their routines,” Caprino said.

And while a mistake can hurt an overall score, it's important to put that aside and finish every routine.

“The worst thing you can do is let (a mistake) snowball,” Caprino said. “You have to let it go and keep going.

“If you fall on the beam, you have to get up and restart your routine. You might fall once, but everyone else might fall two or three times. You just never know.”

In addition to being the two-time defending champions, Moon hosts the WPIAL championship meet.

The Tigers hold their regular-season meets at the middle school, but the WPIAL championships are held at the high school.

“For me, the planning has been the same since we've been hosting the event for so many years,” Caprino said. “The biggest thing is getting the equipment moved from the middle school to the high school.

“The maintenance crew does a great job with that. Everybody helps out.”

Caprino's squad will enter the championship meet as one of the favorites to come away with the team title. North Allegheny, Pine-Richland, Hampton and Baldwin also figure to be in the mix as well.

“All of them have been doing really well,” Caprino said. “It depends who is healthy, who is on and who hits their routines that day.”

Kevin Ritchart is a freelance writer.

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