Following four weeks of practice, Kathy Johnson, co-head coach at Lawrence High and Free State High, eagerly awaits today's gymnastics opener for both schools.
The Lions and Firebirds, who practice together but split for competition, will participate in a quadrangular today with Shawnee Mission East and SM Northwest.
"We have quite a few new people, especially at Free State," said Johnson, entering her fourth season coaching both schools and first with Jenn Cook as the other co-coach. "Both teams have hard-working girls and they're trying hard to perfect their routines. Hopefully, we'll have success on Thursday and it will continue to motivate the girls."
LHS is coming off an eighth-place finish from state. Junior Molly Hoss and senior Allison Wright return from that squad. Other girls on the Lion roster are senior Sarah Fisher, junior Melissa Bowers, sophomore Brooke Goodin, sophomore Ellie Lloyd and freshmen Nicole Jones and Ashley Taylor.
"We have quite a few girls who can compete all-around for Lawrence High," Johnson said.
Senior Silvy Perkins, freshman Cambry McNabb and freshman Elizabeth Brandt lead Free State's all-around competitors. Other girls on the Firebird roster are senior Sarah Parkinson, junior Melissa Kramer, junior Laura Nelson, junior Jessica Tubbs, junior Brooke Weiss, sophomore Kim Baker, sophomore Jaime Hornbaker and freshman Ceara Shaugnessy.
Weiss is actually a Perry-Lecompton student. Since Perry doesn't offer gymnastics, Weiss has been allowed to compete for the Firebirds during the regular season. Weiss will compete as an individual at league and regional, Johnson said.
Missing from Free State's roster is Lacey Baxter, the Firebirds' top performer last season. As a freshman, Baxter placed sixth at state. Baxter now plays volleyball at Free State.
The city's only other home event is the All-Around Invitational on Oct. 1 at LHS.