Cydney Crasa, Alison LaRocca lead strong Ward Melville gymnastics
Coming off an undefeated county championship season and with two returning Newsday All-Long Island gymnasts, Ward Melville is the team to beat in League I.
Cydney Crasa, who made All-Long Island as an eighth-grader, returns to compete for her mother, coach Caryl Crasa. The younger Crasa swept the county meet last year and retains her level-10 status after qualifying for the Junior Olympic nationals. Seniors Alison LaRocca (All-LI) and Eugenia Zhukobski return, as well, looking to graduate with back-to-back team county championships to their name.
Commack has a renewed focus and a desire to return to the championship stature that they enjoyed two years ago. County qualifiers Michelle Mangini, a senior, and sophomore Jordyn Miller return for Commack.
Former Suffolk champion Olivia O'Connor returns from a year's hiatus to compete for Bay Shore. O'Conner, a senior bound for William & Mary, anchors a young team, that features state qualifiers Mattea Gravina (eighth grade) and freshman Sarah Trupp.
Led by freshman Skylar Hass and sophomore Dylan Kowalski, youth and energy might carry Kings Park far. Hass will be used in all four events.
Junior Samantha Fondacaro, a state qualifier in 2011, returns to Half Hollow Hills. Fondacaro, along with sophomore Melanie Gershman, will anchor Hills, which fell by less than one point to Ward Melville at the 2011 county meet. Despite losing two key athletes, Hills hopes to finish in the top three.
Babylon, second in League I last season, features Mikaila Hartigan, a junior who qualified for the state team in vaulting last season. Junior Kayla McCarthy and senior Genny Gravina also return.
With seniors Paula Pecorella and Courtney Von Braunsberg back for another year, West Islip is not only primed to repeat as League II champion but also hopes to secure one of the top spots at the county meet.
In the CHSAA, Kellenberg and St. Francis Prep figure to round out the top half of the four-team league. With a larger squad than in years past, St. John the Baptist hopes to unseat one of those two powerhouses. Senior Kristin Licata, who has made All-League each of the last three seasons, returns for St. John.