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Warrior gymnasts finish season 5-2


Last updated 5/15/2008 at Noon

In 2007 the Fallbrook High School girls gymnastics team won two dual meets, which was two more than the Warriors won in 2006, while losing five. Fallbrook’s 2008 gymnastics team reversed that dual meet record, winning five and losing two.

The 2008 gymnasts won their third dual meet of the year on April 16 at Fallbrook High School, and more importantly the Warriors defeated defending CIF champion Torrey Pines in that meet. The Warriors earned a total of 199.2 points while the Falcons accumulated 195.225 points.

“It was very hard-earned. My girls worked their little tails off to even come close,” said Fallbrook coach Debbie Mericle.

Since the winner in a gymnastics dual meet is the school which accumulates the most points, Fallbrook’s goal for the meet was to break 190 points rather than to defeat the Falcons. “We weren’t concerned about winning,” Mericle said.

Fallbrook didn’t field an optional floor gymnast, so Torrey Pines earned 7.6 points in that event while the Warriors received zero points. “It was very amazing,” Mericle said.

What is even more amazing is that the Warriors’ season has included an optional gymnast who has split time between the gymnastics mats, club cheer, and the trainer’s table and an assistant coach who has been confined to bed rest. “We’re holding our own,” Mericle said. “This year we’ve been very competitive.”

In the meet against Torrey Pines a Warrior gymnast had the top score in every event except for the two floor events. Linda Duling had the top compulsory bars mark with a score of 9.5, and Duling’s 9.35 was the highest score for the compulsory vault.

Kayla Alonso had a score of 9.325 to lead all compulsory beam gymnasts in the meet. Janeva Sandoval had the top score on the optional beam with 9.35 points and the highest score on the optional bar with 9.3 points. Maggie Sellers had 8.15 points on the optional vault to lead the scoring in that event.

“It was exhilarating. We were completely stunned,” Mericle said of the win over the Falcons.

Sandoval is also involved in club cheer. She has missed meets due to cheer competition commitments and has also missed gymnastics meets due to minor injuries.

Sellers, the Warriors’ other optional gymnast, has competed in the vault throughout the season and substituted for Sandoval on the bars and beam when the Warriors defeated La Costa Canyon April 22 at La Costa Canyon to improve their record to 4-2.

The Warriors do not currently have a floor optional gymnast. “We’re working on it, though,” Mericle said.

Assistant coach Heather Hawthorne is now coaching the Warriors from her bed. Hawthorne is expecting a baby in early June and has been confined to bed rest. Mericle’s husband, Robert, videotapes the meets and sends the footage to Hawthorne, who provides coaching tips by e-mail.

Hawthorne’s contributions have still been valuable. “She has done wonders. She has really stepped in where I was lacking, and she has brought these girls to the next level,” Mericle said.

Fallbrook opened its season March 11 with a 195.75-171.15 loss to Westview at Poway High School. The Warriors then defeated Rancho Bernardo March 19 in the Broncos’ gym by a 179.95-174.65 score.

The Warriors then traveled to La Costa Canyon March 21 and faced Mount Carmel. Although the Sundevils were victorious, it was by a 201.675-190.425 score, which reflected well on the Warriors’ performance.

Fallbrook evened its record April 3 at Mount Carmel with a 174.85-171.4 win over Poway. That was followed by the wins over Torrey Pines and La Costa Canyon and by a 194.25-107.50 win over Our Lady of Peace at home April 29.

“They have come so far and we have achieved so much,” Mericle said of her gymnasts. “I’m so excited about everybody this year.”

The team had eight gymnasts in 2006. Only three of those were ready for competition at the varsity level, so the Warriors were unable to field a full team for scoring purposes.

The 21 gymnasts in 2007 included 12 who competed on the varsity level, but the Warriors did not have an optional gymnast and did not receive any optional points.

This year the Warriors have 12 varsity gymnasts, including the two optional performers, and 20 girls on the junior varsity squad.

Duling has already qualified for the CIF meet in the all-around as well as in the individual bar, beam, and vault events. Alonso has qualified in the beam, and Lindsey Ice has qualified in the vault. Sandoval has already qualified for the CIF meet in the optional bars and is expected to qualify in the beam.

The high school district and various donors have helped the gymnastics program acquire new bars, bar mats, vault covers, a sting mat, two spotting blocks, and a springboard. “We are all up to par, and we are competitive,” Mericle said.


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