Garay, in her seventh year coaching the high school teams at Classic Gymnastics on Mars Court, usually takes on anyone who wants to give the sport a try.
But for 2013, she opted for a smaller, more talented team.
Garay has eight varsity gymnasts this year — six from Tracy High and two from Kimball. No one from West tried out.
“This year, we wanted to make sure we had girls who were committed to the program and really wanted to be here and learn,” Garay said. “We have a good, committed group.”
No other Sac-Joaquin Section schools have gymnastics, so local high school gymnasts compete in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League, where Kimball High placed second last year and Tracy placed fourth.
Kimball sent five gymnasts to the Central Coast Section finals and placed fourth.
Tracy junior Elizabeth Higa competed for the Bulldogs her freshman year but has been in the sport for 13 years.
“I started when I was little and I fell in love with it,” she said. “I don’t want to do any other sports besides gymnastics.”
Higa added that even with reduced numbers, the Tracy team can repeat its success.
“I feel like if we work really hard, we could do really well,” Higa said.
Returning varsity gymnasts also include Danielle Scheurerlein, a Kimball High senior in her third year, and Rachel Pombo, a Tracy High sophomore who qualified for CCS competition in the balance beam and floor exercise.
Joining Kimball for the first time is sophomore Ariel Escalante, who brings 13 years of experience.
“It’s a little scary, but I’m here to learn new moves,” she said. “I was going to be on the junior varsity, but I decided to stay on varsity to learn new things, because I felt I would be challenged.”
Also new to the team is Tracy High freshman Alicia Woo, who got into the sport as a youth and competed for nine years before an injury held her back. She took the opportunity to join the high school team to get back into the sport.
Fellow freshman Lauren Arganbright and juniors Christina Lopopolo and Morgan Balaban also join the Tracy team this year.
The competitive season begins at 4:30 p.m., Monday, March 25, at Classic Gymnastics, when the local teams host Palo Alto High, Gunn High of Palo Alto and St. Francis High of Mountain View.
• Contact Bob Brownne at 835-3030 or firstname.lastname@example.org.