By David Fong
TROY — Larry McCoppin is counting on his team’s depth to make a run at a return trip to state this season.
“To me, that’s what is going to help us,” the Troy gymnastics coach said. The Trojans open their home season Monday morning at Gem City Gymnastics. “We’ve got a lot of girls who can compete — we are just looking for two of them to step up and fill the No. 3 and No. 4 spots for us. We know Lizzy Deal and Abby Baker are probably going to be our top two, finding a third and fourth scorer is going to make the difference if we go to state.”
Two years ago the Trojans not only went to state as a team, but placed sixth overall, the highest finish in school history. After finishing third at districts last year — only the top two teams from each district qualify for state — the Trojans are gearing up to make a run at a return trip this season.
Leading the way will be Deal, a junior. Last year, she won district titles in the bar and floor, qualifying for state not only in those two events, but also in the all-around and floor exercise.
“Right now, she looks stronger than she did at this stage last year,” McCoppin said of Deal. “She’s become much more consistent in her routines.”
Baker, also a junior, is a prime candidate to join Deal in the all-around.
“She is a strong gymnast in every event,” McCoppin said. “She’s stronger than she was last year. She had a full year of gymnastics — she competed in the summer and fall; I think she played another sport last year — and it’s really helped her.”
Troy’s two seniors are Carly Smith and Lanie Hagan.
“They’ve both been with the team for four years now and they are great leaders,” McCoppin said. “They are both great leaders and they are good workers. They are good, experienced kids to have around. They’ll each do two or three events for us.”
In addition to Deal and Baker, the junior class is filled out by Lilli Cusick, Brooklyn Eldridge and Abigail Otten.
“Abigail is stronger than she was last year; she’ll probably compete in two or three events for us,” McCoppin said. “Lilli is still getting into competition shape. She’s one of the leaders in the marching band and has spent a lot of time with them. Once she gets into competition shape, we think she’ll really be able to help us out, long-term. Brooklyn is new to the team; we think she’ll be able to help us out long-term, too.”
The team — which doesn’t have any freshmen — is rounded by by four sophomores: Nevaeh Collier, Sarah Kraynek, Elizabeth Daniel and Leah Winters.
“Neveah is looking stronger than she did last year,” McCoppin said. “She has a lot better form than she did last season. She’s been working hard and will compete in two or three events for us. Elizabeth has a lot more confidence this year and is turning into a great leader. She’s going to be a big help for us.
“Sarah will be competing in three events for us. She’s very strong on at least two of them. She has a chance to be a state qualifier in the vault. Leah will probably be competing in two events for us. She’s been working hard and is stronger than she was last year.”
At districts last year, Troy placed third behind Versailles and Miamisburg, one spot away from going to state. McCoppin said he expects his team to be in the running again this year.
“There are four pretty strong teams in the distinct that stand out,” McCoppin said. “Miamisburg, Versailles, Troy and Centerville. Last year it came down to the wire — Miamisburg passed us on the last event. Any four of those teams are capable of going to state this year; it’s probably just a matter of who is hitting that day.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong