Apr. 14—Emily Apodaca and Jaylee Martinez will carry the bulk of the load when the Central High School co-op gymnastics teams enters the Class 4A regionals Thursday at Overland High School.
Apodaca, a junior, and Martinez, a sophomore, have been the all-around champion once apiece in the four tri-meets the Wildcats have competed in this season.
The pair will headline Central’s hopes of advancing to the state meet April 22-24 with strong showings at the regionals. Three others also will have an impact on how well the Wildcats perform — senior Ashlynn Drury, junior Alleson Schlosky and sophomore Hailey Soares.
The Wildcats will take part in the regionals, starting at 4:55 p.m. Thursday. Alamosa, Lone Star, Loveland, Niwot and Thomas Jefferson are in Central’s region.
Three regionals in Class 5A and 4A will take place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Overland, Mountain Range and Arvada West high schools. The three regional champions and next best four teams regardless of region will advance to the state meet, along with the top 12 individuals in each event.
Central coach Sarah Stenerson feels her team is prepared for the postseason.
“The girls had a great meet this past Saturday,” Stenerson said, pointing to the Wildcats’ third win in a tri-meet against Alamosa and Canon City at home. “We’ll go in to practice, make some corrections and ride the wave into regionals. The girls seem to be in good spirits.
“You can’t do anything about the competition. All you can do is prepare yourselves. The girls are working hard and feeling good. We’re just thankful to have the opportunity. That’s been our No. 1 mantra this season.”
Apodaca and Martinez have been Central’s leaders, and both have their own strengths as they prepare for the regionals..
Being an all-around competitor comes naturally for Apodaca, who has been competing in gymnastics most of her life.
“I’ve been an all-arounder since my freshman year,” Apodoca said. “I’ve always done all the events. I grew up doing Excel Gymnastics, and most of my teammates have. When you do Excel, you have to do all four (events). You don’t get a choice.
“I just stuck with it in high school. I’m not going to give myself the option. I could slack off, but I’m going to do all four.”
Apodaca says her team has stayed together despite having a shortened season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“For how weird the season was, the team has a good attitude going into it,” she said. “We might not be where we want to be, but we all have positive attitudes. We haven’t had as much time as we normally do, but we’ve wanted to have as much fun as we can.”
Martinez competed in two individual events as a freshman but has expanded her repertoire.
“Usually floor is my strength, but beam has been second best for me,” Martinez said. “That’s good for me because when I was younger, (the beam) wasn’t as easy for me. I’ve been surprising myself with how good I’ve done this year.”
Getting better is a constant, important goal for Martinez.
“I just need to improve my skills and get more difficulty on my skills,” she said. “Pretty much on every event, I want to push myself even farther.”
Martinez believes the camaraderie Central’s team has shown this season has been key.
“We’re definitely a lot closer, so we push each other,” she said. “That gives us a lot of motivation.
Stenerson also knows her team will be leaning on Apodaca and Martinez.
“They’ve shown good consistency and have gone back and forth (winning) all season,” Stenerson said. “They are two good strong leaders, and the girls look up to them.
“They are both hard workers. It rubs off on the rest of the team. They have good work ethic and have pushed the other girls to be their best. They are real leaders.”
Chieftain interim sports editor Jeff Letofsky can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @jeffletofsky
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