Whether preparing for a challenging maneuver atop the balance beam or preparing for a complicated vault, gymnastics is a solitary sport by nature, where success depends solely upon individual performance.
Yet just like their counterparts on the football field and the basketball court, gymnasts at the high school level are part of a team. And the girls at Highland Park High School find that both more demanding and more rewarding.
The Lady Scots have won the team title in all but two of their meets this season — including every meet during the compulsory part of the schedule — and hope to culminate their spring with the program’s first state championship.
“Very few meets did we have our full roster on the floor for one reason or another,” said HP head coach Brandy Wren. “That just shows that the girls are stepping up and working hard and focused on their training.”
This HP squad doesn’t have one dominant performer, as in years past, although seniors Ashley Farley and Natalie Alkire frequently are near the top of the all-around standings at most meets. Others are capable of posting big scores in certain events.
Farley and Alkire have received plenty of individual accolades both at HP and as club gymnasts, and so as their high school careers wind down, their priorities have shifted a bit.
“I’m really happy when we win as a team,” Alkire said. “When we’re competing, it helps our confidence when our teammates are cheering us on.”
Farley said that if she had to choose between an individual title and a team title at this year’s state meet, she would probably opt to share the wealth.
“For me, I like to accomplish things together. I like working with the other girls,” Farley said. “It’s really fun to be there with your teammates motivating each other. I want to do my best because the team is counting on me.”
The Lady Scots will host their district meet on April 1, along with their boys counterparts, when they will face schools from Irving and Richardson. The regional meet is two weeks later in Garland, followed by the state finals on May 1-2 in Saginaw.
HP is ranked among the top teams in the state this season by average top score. Its best result at state thus far was a third-place finish in 1994.
“As long as everybody’s healthy, I think we have the ability to do really well,” Wren said. “I’ve had more talented teams, but they didn’t want it as much as these girls do.”