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Newtown High School’s gymnastics team has a solid group of returnees from a year ago, as well as a new coach at the helm. Kim Kane, a coach at the team’s home venue, Kinetic Kids Gymnastics in Oxford, takes over in leading the Nighthawks.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge of it. I have big shoes to fill,” said Kane, who previously coached high school gymnastics in Illinois and takes over for Chelsie Eckman, also a Kinetic Kids coach, who continues to lead the Oxford High team.
A year ago, the Hawks were second in the South-West Conference for the second straight time. The four-time SWC champion is New Milford. The last time New Milford did not win the title marks Newtown’s most recent conference championship (2013).
Both teams return experienced gymnasts on the vault, beam, bars, and floor, and will face each other a couple of times during the regular season.
Alex Ferris, Sarah MacMullen, and Sam Olah leave voids following graduation, and New Milford graduated two team members from a year ago.
“I think we have a great opportunity to do well. We have so many all-arounds,” Kane said of gymnasts who will bring home points in each event.
Returning Nighthawks include senior captains Maddie Jannott and Liz Marcinek, as well as Emma Delia. Jannott and Delia are both all around gymnasts. Jannott has been injured as preseason unfolds, but is hopeful of a full recovery by the time the regular season rolls around, in early January.
Other Hawks are juniors Ally Kenny (all around), Olivia Brosnan, Amanda Brinkman, Taylor Krikorian, Bella Manfredi, Malie Gioffre, and Allie Tassiello; and sophomores Hannah Jojo (all around), Marissa Choi (potential all around gymnast), Mary Locke (all around), Casey Sullivan, Kylie Giroux, Maya Wadhwa, and Monika Mihok.
The regular slate begins on January 4, when the Hawks visit Jonathan Law of Milford to take on Law, Daniel Hand of Madison, and Oxford, in a 6 pm meet.
Kane was a gymnast as a child before getting into cheerleading. She cheered at Aurora University in Illinois before she began coaching gymnastics, which she has done for three decades.
“I’m excited for the season. There are a lot of new girls on the team that have a lot of potential,” Kane said.
“I think we have a really good chance at large meets. We have a good dynamic already and we just got started,” Jannott said.
Marcinek competes in club gymnastics during the offseason and welcomes the start of the high school campaign.
“High school gymnastics is very different from [club] gymnastics,” said Marcinek, adding that club gymnastics is very individualized and at the high school level it has more of a team atmosphere.
Kane notes that her team members bring a lot of enthusiasm and camaraderie is high.
“They seem like they really are looking forward to working together and that makes me happy as a coach,” Kane said.
SWC championships break up the regular slate, and are set for Thursday, February 8, at New Milford High (time to be announced). Regular season action resumes with two meets in mid-February, before state competition takes place. Newtown placed seventh in last year’s Class L state championship, won by Greenwich.