Adam Turner, Cincinnati Enquirer
GREEN TWP. - Oak Hills High School already had a formidable team returning for the 2015-16 season. The Highlanders have been bolstered by the addition of three private school athletes who are competing with the squad this year.
Senior captain Alyssa McCarthy is the team's veteran presence. The team's only senior, she will be counted on to provide leadership for the team's four freshmen. Those four represent the program's largest ever freshman class.
"Her expertise and confidence will help her lead the team to a successful season," said head coach Kristin Perica.
Nina Wurzelbacher, a Seton High School student, qualified for state as an individual in the beam last season. Because she lives within the Oak Hills School District, she has been allowed to join the Highlanders team this season.
"We are so excited that Seton has allowed Nina to join our team this year because she brings so much experience that will help our team be successful this season," said Perica.
Also joining the squad are Seton's Caroline Klug and Mother of Mercy student Kiki Carle. Carle qualified for state in the floor last year and is working to add new upgrades to her routine. Freshman Donna Derrenkamp and juniors Caylee Cracium and Natalia Johnson enter the season with experience and improved routines.
These experienced gymnasts will give Oak Hills a boost. Nearly half of last year's roster entered last season with no competitive gymnastics experience. They enter this year with a better understanding of the rules and the amount of work it takes to succeed at this level.
"Last year, our team was very young and inexperienced. This year, our team has improved tremendously over the summer with many upgraded skills," said Perica. "They have also gained more confidence going into this season. The girls trained hard in the offseason and are ready to show off their new and improved routines this season."
The main goal for this season is to qualify for state as a team, something Oak Hills has never done. Individuals like McCarthy and McKenzey Kleinholz want to make their first trip to state, and the gymnasts who have been there, Wurzelbacher and Carle, want to return and redeem themselves from last year's disappointing state showings.
Oak Hills is off to a strong start, winning the first meet of the season at Anderson on Dec. 8. The Highlanders return to competition on Dec. 20 at Turpin High School for the Forest Hills Flip Fest.
"I am very excited to see this team push each other to reach their own personal goals and our goals as a team," said Perica. "I look forward to watching my team have a record-breaking season this year." [Read More]