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Oceanside continues to thrive

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Losing two All-County tumblers to graduation and another budding star to injury early this season hasn’t slowed down the continued success of the Oceanside gymnastics team.

The Lady Sailors are enjoying another fine season as they wrap up another winter campaign and several gymnasts are hoping to shine even further at next week’s state qualifier and team championships. This season, despite the losses in manpower, the girls are averaging about 161 points per meet, which is just one lower than last year’s squad.

Coach Andy Morris, who is approaching his fourth decade at the helm, couldn’t be happier with his team’s resiliency.

“Things are going incredibly well,” he said. “The other girls have kind of stepped up and we’re right where we were last year. We reload, but we don’t rebuild. It’s amazing how well these girls have done.”

Things were looking grim when junior Megan Rugolo, one of the team’s top vaulters, suffered a season-ending injury around the second week. But the team didn’t miss a beat as senior Emma Gehrig, a tremendous vaulter herself who missed her entire junior campaign with a knee injury, stepped right in and won the event in dual meets against Plainview JFK on Jan. 6, Bethpage two days later and South Side on Jan. 16.

Gehrig sandwiched in a victory in the beam against Wantagh on Jan. 14 and is a favorite to return to states, where she found herself as a sophomore.

“She’s a tough kid,” said Morris. “There are very few obstacles you can put in her way that she doesn’t try to overcome. She’s doing a vault that no kid in Oceanside has ever done before. If she lands the vault in the state tournament, then she’s got a shot at it.”

The team also boasts a strong crop of junior performers in Jess Brew (floor exercise), Megan Reynolds (bars), Sara Eidelman (floor) and Kayla Kessler (balance beam). Reynolds won the all-around against Wantagh and was first on bars (8.3) against South Side, Brew earned a 9.0 in winning the floor exercise against Bethpage.

“The strength of the team is the junior class,” Morris said. “Emma’s been phenomenal and our seniors have been good, but the junior class is the backbone of this team.”

Freshman Emma Radef has also “filled out what we lost from last year” along with Gehrig, according to Morris. She also adds depth to an already strong floor exercise unit.

The Lady Sailors will be the sixth-ranked team entering the county championships and six girls will represent the program at the state qualifier. Morris is hoping to place among the top five and compete with the likes of Port Washington and South Side, which scored narrow victories over them during the regular season.

“In that meet, we’d have to beat a team like Port Washington and South Side, who we’re close with,” he surmised. “They’re averaging 163 and we’re averaging 161. It’s who shows up that night.”