Talent leads Mercer Island gymnasts | Gymnastics preview

Mercer Island High School gymnastics senior captains Sarah Pangallo, Kelly Grady and Kari Johnson.  - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
Mercer Island High School gymnastics senior captains Sarah Pangallo, Kelly Grady and Kari Johnson.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

After breaking into the postseason last winter, the Mercer Island gymnastics team returns with even more talent than their predecessors.

“They are showing more skills earlier than they did last year,” said longtime head coach Lenny Lewis. “For this first competition, more girls are eligible this year than last year by a long shot. Last year we might have an average five or six girls per event ready to go. This year so far, we’ve prepped for two events. The first two events have 16 or 17 girls ready.”

Led by three senior captains, the team looks to capitalize on that talent and go farther.

“We’re deeper than we were last year,” said Lewis. “Last year we had four or five who were our core, but we have some (now) who are further down the line with their skills.”

Captain Kari Johnson agreed, saying the team started off the year strong and with a lot of depth.

Lewis said he expects the Islanders to once again be a force on the floor, while the captains added vault to the list.

“We have girls who have a lot of gymnastics experience,” said captain Kelly Grady.

Lewis said the first weeks of practice have included the usuals, but with one exception. The team wanted to condition more.

“They wanted to condition more this year, so I’m happy with that,” said the coach.

“We started off with conditioning because then the skills come a lot easier,” said captain Sarah Pangallo.

Thanks to two new assistant coaches, Megan Addis and Islander alum Olivia Harvey, the team has been able to accomplish more earlier.

“We’re working on compulsory routines for the freshmen. Last year we didn’t have it ready for them, but we have two new assistant coaches who are excellent. They’ve made up the routine and got about 15 girls out there doing the compulsory,” said Lewis.

Thanks to that solid foundation, the team will be in an even better position when it faces Mount Si, a sort of league rival of the Islanders.

“Mount Si — that’s our second home meet and we want to beat them,” said Lewis. “They are talented, I already know they are stacked up. If we beat them we’ll be alright. We beat them in the postseason (last year), but they have a little more talent coming in, or a higher level of talent. Three or four girls can’t win a meet, and I think they are a little deeper.”

Other than beating Mount Si, Lewis said the team hasn’t spent much time discussing their goals.

“The only goal we’ve actually talked about is trying to make the postseason, past KingCo. That’s the big thing,” said the coach.

For Pangallo, she wanted to work on getting up to all around, while Johnson wants to work on a new skill for each event. Overall, they hope the team has a fun season, working together.

The team will compete against Interlake, Lake Washington and Liberty in the first home meet of the season on Dec. 8 at MIHS starting at 7 p.m. The team will take on Mount Si, Liberty and Sammamish on Dec. 17 in another home meet. It is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

Get a full schedule on the KingCo website.


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