ST. LOUIS — A good number of Oregon State gymnasts watched while a senior-heavy Oregon State gymnastics team competed in the NCAA Championships on Friday.
A few of the younger gymnasts got into one or two events this season and most of the nine freshmen spent the season on the sideline, waiting for their turn.
Halli Briscoe, Kaitlyn Campbell, Destinee Davis, Lena Greene, Jaime Law, Alyssa Minyard and Maela Lazaro did not compete this year.
For several of the gymnasts, that comes next season.
“I think that being here at nationals for all the girls that are coming back next year is definitely a motivator,” senior Silvia Colussi-Pelaez said. “To be here and compete here and to have that fire and know that they can come again and do even better next year, I think it was a really good experience for everyone.”
The Beavers fell to sixth in the semifinals and were not able to make the Super Six, yet they put together a strong finish on beam to end the competition and their season.
“That’s why I was proud of them, they didn’t give up and that’s something that you can carry into next year and really build off of,” coach Tanya Chaplin said. “And this is a great experience for our athletes that are young to see what this is all about, to see nationals, experience this, competing on podium as a team and all of that stuff.
“So our job is to take everything in this weekend and let it help us grow into next year.”
In addition to the sophomores-to-be, there’s what Chaplin calls a great group of incoming freshmen.
That leaves a handful of upperclassmen and two seniors — Dani Dessaints and Shireen Khamedoost — although Sabrina Gill and Isis Lowery were "older" freshmen this season, both waiting a couple years before beginning college.
“We’ll only have five upperclassmen, the rest is going to be underclassmen, so I think having the freshmen come here (to St. Louis) and see what it’s like and see how hard we’ve worked, I think it will kind of give them a different perspective on how to teach the incoming freshmen," Dessaints said. "And it’s also our job as upperclassmen to let them know, this is how it’s going to go, this is what we’re training, this is how we’ve going to do things. But it’s just kind of from the get-go, from the start, this is how it’s going to be if we want to make it to nationals again.”
It will be a challenge for Dessaints and Khamedoost to match the leadership of the six seniors.
“It’s definitely going to be different next year, especially since we’re going to only have two seniors and I have to step into that role with Shireen Khamedoost to fill all six seniors and their personalities, so it’s going to be different, but I think it will be fun,” Dessaints said.
“We’re going to have to figure out our team chemistry again because each team is different and it’s just a matter of how can we figure it out so we can connect just like we did this year.”
Four Beavers received all-American honors at the meet. Madeline Gardiner was first team on the beam and Silvia Colussi-Pelaez second team on the beam, while Kaytianna McMillan was second on floor and Erika Aufiero was second on bars.