eschickler@bcnnew.com

The Weston gymnastics team continues to improve under the guidance of second year coach Salina Tavella.

Weston lost two outstanding senior captains from last year's squad, Chloe Slovak and Megan Wiethoff, who were strong leaders. But the team doesn't have to worry about replacing their scoring output because Slovak didn't compete because of an injury and Wiethoff suffered a season-ending injury early. The Lady Trojans also lost Daniella Janis, a current junior, who missed half the year with an injury and is now doing indoor track and Nicole DeCanio, a current sophomore who left the sport to perform in the high school play and focus on her main sport -- lacrosse.

Working in Weston's favor is the return of senior captain Kailee Mann, who was an all-around competitor last year and improved as the season progressed. Mann continued to improve during the preseason and provides strong leadership. Last year's leading scorer and Team MVP Alexis Gandal is also back and improved. Gandal will compete all-around.

Sophomores Lena Romaldini and Maddie Ratte also return from last year and they have progressed. Both did vault and floor exercise last year and Romaldini will be an all-arounder this year. Ratte added the balance beam to her repertoire.

Three freshmen join the team, starting with Andrea Janis, who is a high caliber gymnast and could challenge Gandal for the team lead in scoring. The younger Janis trained at Westport Weston Family Y and Tavella foresees good things for her. Classmates Meredith Marcus and Sarah Levin are fairly new to gymnastics but have a strong background in it that should help them compete. Marcus competed in gymnastics at the Family Y until fifth grade and Levin is a dancer.

"I'm happy to have three new gymnasts," said Tavella. "I have no complaints about the kids' work ethic. They come in every day and work hard for two hours."

Mann said, "We're starting off strong this year. Even though we have a small team, we're solid and dedicated. We're working very hard and I can already see we're motivated."

The Lady Trojans broke 100 once last year and didn't send anyone to the State Open. This could change for the better this year. "The freshmen have shown determination and strength," said Mann. "If they put their mind to it, they will do well. We hope to break 100 in a few meets and send at least one girl to states."

Tavella said, "I want the kids to do the best they can, see self-improvement and break 100 more than once."

If Weston improves exponentially and has one of the top 24 averages in the state, it will qualify for the Class S championship meet.

That's one of our goals," said Mann. "If we work hard, we can do it."