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WOBURN — Despite a season plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Woburn High gymnastics team delivered a fine season earlier this year.

Following a 4-3 mark, the Tanners were in the hunt for the Middlesex League title until the last week of the season until Burlington grabbed the league title.

Head coach Colleen Morrison, who has been guiding the program for 25 years, has seen her shares of successes throughout her coaching career.

“This is my 25th year and it’s been huge for me,’’ said Morrison. “It honestly seems like I just started coaching yesterday/ I love it just as much as I did in 1997, but now not only do I appreciate the sport of gymnastics, I truly appreciate the time I spend with my gymnasts. It's very rewarding to see them grow as people over their four years spent on the team.”

With only 12 gymnasts competing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tanners were able to deliver an impressive season despite the obstacles and restrictions.

“Last year was truly an extraordinary season. We were all so appreciative to be able to practice and compete,’’ said Morrison. “All of the girls were so happy to just be around their peers. It made for a great atmosphere. We did, however, have to cut our team down to only 12 gymnasts. After learning and perfecting the many COVID protocols we were off and running. We always had that fear that we would be shut down at any moment, so we worked hard and enjoyed our time together. We improved a lot, especially since we were held to only four practices a week.”

While the pandemic still exists and is in the midst of another surge, Morrision is once again being very cautions this season

“We are being very cautious this year,’’ said Morrison. “We are so used to the protocols, and are being diligent in order to assure we can continue with our season. The way we look at it, it cannot be any worse than last year, and we ended up having a great season.”

Leading the way for the Tanners will be five senior captains in Sam Jolly as well as Cora Soderquist followed by Lauren Ouellette, Sara Abreu and Meriam Alessandroni.

Jolly is expected to compete in the all-around while Soderquest is slated to compete in the bars, beam and floor. While Morrison doesn’t have her line-up set, all of the other seniors are expected to compete on a minimum of three events each.

“All five of our captains provide a lot of leadership and experience to share with the underclassmen,’’ said Morrison. “Also all five will compete on a minimum of three events each. It's remarkable how valuable they have been over the past four years.”

Other seniors returning and working to earn a spot in the lineup include Camille Aubry, Olivia Pinto, Kaitlyn Assetta, Alex Gately, Catarina De Lemos Loureiro, Sam Niemszyk. According to Morrison, most will compete in at least one or two events.

Kiara Napuri is the only junior on the team, and will be the Tanner’s second all-around competitor. Napuri has earned some success as an all-around competitor since her time as a freshman.

Sophomores vying for a spot on the starting lineup include the group of Jaleesa Nevarez, Mia Hutchinson, Eleni Fadis, Ciara Kehoe, Gia Ramos and Ellen Lambrukos.

“The sophomores have been looking great,’’ said Morrison. “They’re all competing for spots in the lineup, and they’ve looked great so far.”

Newcomers to the squad for the Tanners also include Avery Simpson, Grace Toomey as well as Riley Syring and Kaitlyn Spinazola.

“We have a motivated group of freshmen this year,’’ said Morrison. “Our underclassmen are all working hard to earn the chance to contribute to our team score.”

Jolly, who is recovering from mono, is expected to be the Tanners No. 1 all-around competitor and will aim to qualify for the individual state meet this year.

“Sam Jolly will be a definite all around competitor for us this year,’’ said Morrison. “She is just getting over mono, and is working so hard to get back her competitive skills. Sam is looking forward to going back to the individual state meet this year. Due to Covid we didn't have it last year, and she was fifth in the state as a sophomore. We are looking for great things for her this season.”

Morrison is also expecting Kehoe to battle with Napuri for the team’s second all-around spot.

“(Ciara) Kehoe, will also be looking to break into the scene at the state level,’’ said Morrison, “She and Kiara Napuri will be battling for that allaround spot.  We have lots of depth this year. Cora Soderquist, Lauren Ouellette, and Sara Abreu will all be competing on three events this season.  They make up a good majority of our team scores.  Meriam Alessandroni, Camille Aubry, Olivia Pinto, and Kaitlyn Assetta, Sam Niemszyk, Jalessa Nevarez, Eleni Fadis, Mia Hutchinson, and freshman Avery Simpson will all be fighting to compete on two events.  And event specialists Alex Gately and newcomer Kait Spinazola will add depth to our bar and floor line up.”

As for expectations, the Tanners are hoping to be among the top teams in the league. .

“I know our league is very strong this year with Reading leading the way,’’ said Morrison. “Wakefield, Burlington and newly added Bedford/Wilmington will all be challenges for us, but we are working hard and will be ready.

Morrison is also hoping that the Tanners will be able to qualify for North Sectionals. While the North Sectionals didn’t happen last year as a result of the pandemic, four Middlesex League teams qualified in 2019, including Reading, Burlington, Wakefield and Stoneham.

“I am really excited to see how things fall into place with our lineup. We will have many gymnasts working hard to break into the competition line up each week,’’ said Morrison. “It’s great to have friendly competition within our own team. This team works hard and has a lot of fun while doing it. We feel like we have a chance to qualify for the North Sectionals, given the lineup and depth we have.”

The Tanners open the season on Thursday, Jan. 6 where they’ll host Arlington at 4:30 p.m.

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