Even though the Sharon High School girls gymnastics team has a new head coach this winter, the Eagles hope to remain as successful as they have been over the past several years.
A year ago, Sharon completed the dual-meet campaign with a 10-2 overall record. The Eagles placed second in the Hockomock League with an 8-2 mark, finishing second to Mansfield, which completed the season 11-0 overall and 10-0 in the league.
Sharon was seeded ninth at the MIAA South Sectional in Hudson and finished eighth overall with a score of 136.525.
This winter, Jessica Hiltz takes over the reins as Eagles head coach. The 2006 graduate of Canton High earned her nursing degree from Simmons College in Boston last May.
During her inaugural season, Hiltz will have a good mix of older and younger gymnasts on her 13-member team. And all 13 Eagles are capable of excelling in each of the four events: balance beam, floor exercise, vault and bars.
"The first couple of weeks we had the girls focused on fixing their routines and getting in all of their requirements," said Hiltz, who is coaching the Eagles with Casey Bowdish.
"It is all about repetition. We want the girls to continually go through their routines."
The Eagles will be led this season by senior captains Kelsey Seto and Lauren Burke and junior captain Cori Plesko.
Seto was a Hockomock League All-Star last winter and is ranked on the balance beam. She is also a standout performer on bars.
Burke excels on balance beam and is also a standout on floor exercise. Plesko is currently battling a knee injury. She excels in all four events, particularly the balance beam.
Sophomore Samantha Kaplan returns this winter after an outstanding freshman campaign. She was an all-league selection last season, placing eighth in the all-around competition (36.575) at the South Sectional. Kaplan was second in the all-around at the league meet and was third in the all-around competition at the state individual meet.
Sophomore Jessica Chabot is also a standout in the all-around competition, placing eighth at the South Sectional in Hudson last year with a total score of 33.925.
Three freshmen will look to make an impact on the Eagles this season, including Chelsie Noller and Marielle Fisher. Johannah El-Khoury is currently battling an elbow injury, but may return to the team at some point this season.
Sophomore Emily Wooten is a standout in floor, beam and vault, while classmate Alicia Dagle excels in bars, beam and floor. Juniors Sarah Spelfogel and Melissa Steinberg both are looking to be key contributors to the team as is sophomore Cari Schmidt.
"All of our girls are strong gymnasts," Hiltz said.
"We want them to be supportive of each other and take one meet at a time. We are thrilled with how the girls are working. Everyone is working really hard."
The Eagles will have two meets against Canton, Oliver Ames and North Attleboro with one meet against Mansfield, King Philip and Attleboro.
"Our goal is to win the league this year," Hiltz said.
"We have a very strong team, but it will be no walk in the park."
Sharon will open its season on Monday, when the Eagles travel to Canton to face the Bulldogs in a league match at 5 p.m. Sharon will then travel to Attleboro for a meet that is scheduled for either Wednesday or Thursday.
"We are just focusing on our first meet on Monday," said Hiltz.
The Eagles will not compete in their first home meet until Friday, January 7 when they entertain league rival King Philip at 7 p.m. Sharon will host its home meets this winter at the Academy of Gymnastics, which is located in Stoughton.