Naperville Central is going into hibernation once again this winter break.
After their third meet this season against Glenbard North at home Dec. 8, the Redhawks will not compete again until a DuPage Valley Conference dual with Glenbard East Jan. 6.
“We actually love (the competition break),” Naperville Central senior Carrie Deveney said. “You get to come in, see where you’re scoring, see how you’re doing, what you need to improve on and then you get this huge break to really work on everything, work out the kinks. When you come back, you’re a lot stronger so we love that time.”
The Redhawks actually had a later start as well. Their first meet wasn’t until the Mike Williams Big Purple Invitational Dec. 4 because what was supposed to be their scheduled season opener two days earlier with Wheaton North co-operator was canceled when Wheaton North’s program merged this season with Wheaton Warrenville South.
One reason for the extended break is, per District 203 policy, Naperville Central cannot compete during final exams Dec. 21-23, although it will be practicing.
“In fact, they’d really like it if we didn’t practice but I keep telling them that exercise is great for the mind, especially gymnastics,” Naperville Central coach Glen Reimers said. “It opens it up for leaning. They should do something. They’ll remember and learn better.”
One benefit for the extra practice time is that the varsity lineup is predominantly new. Deveney and sophomore Jaime Kay are the lone varsity returnees. Senior Kendall Hassler returns for the first time since freshman year, while other newcomers include sophomore Stephanie Gerrans and freshmen Grace Ellis, Logan Hassler, Vanessa Henry, Brittany Mitchell and Claire Savard.
Kendall Hassler sat out last year’s club gymnastics season with torn ligaments in her left foot.
“I decided my last year I wanted to have fun with gymnastics so I came back to high school. I like high school (gymnastics) freshman year so I wanted to come back and do it again,” Kendall Hassler said. “It’s a lot different from club, obviously, but there’s a lot more cheering. I remembered a lot of cheering from my friends and the whole team. I like it a lot.”
At the Big Purple Invite, Logan Hassler tied for third on balance beam (8.55) and Kendall Hassler tied for ninth on floor exercise (8.625).
Against Glenbard West Dec. 6, Kendall Hassler tied for first on beam (8.55) and she (9.1) and Ellis (9.05) were top scorers on floor. Savard (9.05 on vault) and Kendall Hassler (7.9) had the other top scores.
Against Glenbard North, Kendall Hassler (32.50 all-around) had the top team scores on beam (8.95) and uneven bars (8.0) while others came from Savard (8.9 on vault) and Ellis (8.55 on floor).
“(My ankle) hurts sometimes but I get through it. I just push the pain out of my mind and get through the meet,” Kendall Hassler said.
“(These early meets are ) just a test to see where we’re at now and then over winter break I know that we’re going to work all of our harder skills and compete those. It’s nice to see how we’re going to start off and how we’re going to finish.”