Winning gymnasts return for BHS meet

Winning gymnasts return for BHS meetBy ANGELA MOORE

News Review Contributor

It was a momentous occasion as members of the 1975-1980 Burroughs Gymnastics team stood and saluted the audience along with the new 2017 BHS women’s gymnastics team. Betsy Babcock LePlatt, Kyra Specht Oreste and Kevin Specht all competed on the women’s and men’s gymnastics teams for Burroughs during that time frame.

The award-winning gymnasts helped mark the recently re-established BHS team during its weekend meet against St. Joseph High School.

“It’s crazy,” noted Kevin Specht, class of 1977, former BHS men’s gymnast, and now coach and judge. “I graduated with [SSUSD Superintendent] Ernie Bell and [BHS Athletic Director] Robert Camp-bell. And for all of us to be a part of this effort to revive gymnastics for BHS, it’s something!” BHS gymnasts were Golden League Champions from 1975-79.

Specht said he hopes that the program will continue to grow and will include a men’s team at some point. He added that he was pleased to see so many in the community turn out to cheer on the Burros.

“We really wanted to do well at home in front of our friends and teachers,” said Taylor Moore, who took first place All Around at the meet. Team BHS saw many first-place finishes including first place on vault and floor for Renee Bradford and first on beam for Saralynn McEntee.

Burroughs Varsity swept all six places on bars with Taylor Moore, Renee Bradford, Saralynn McEntee, Alsysha Owen, Hailee Romkowske and Cadence Bush-nell. Reese Tucker wowed the crowd with a fiery floor routine and JV’s Kelsey Stephey gave St. Joseph a run for its money with solid finishes on vault and beam.

The crowd included educators from BHS, among them Principal Bryan Auld, Assistant Principal (and former gymnast) Carrie Cope and English-AVID teacher, Ernestina Wilson. “I can’t tell you how excited the staff is about all of this,” said Wilson.

LePlatt added her excitement at seeing the program return to Burroughs. “This is such a valuable experience for these kids. I was involved from 1975-79,” she said. “And I’m still friends with the people on my gymnastics team!”

She said she is proud of the new team for carrying on the torch. “And to the members of the team, I would like to say how proud I am of how well the did — they all looked great at the meet!”

For many, including BHS coaches Rose Bonaventura and Jessica Baker, the new BHS Gymnastics Program is like coming home. Bonaventura competed at the club level and then in high school in Philadelphia and later went on to coach in New Jersey and Maryland where she was privileged to coach an elite gymnast who went on to make the U.S. National team.

Coach Jessica Baker, who played basketball for Burroughs in 2004-07, started her gymnastics journey at age 4 and competed until age 16. At 19 she began coaching at Ridgecrest Gymnastics Academy and later in San Diego at the YMCA before coming back to Ridgecrest to coach for a club in 2013.

“Jess and I make a great team,” said Bonaventura — for both their combined experience and the enthusiasm they share about the team. “These girls have heart; we love working with all of them!”

Team BHS is the sixth team in the Moore League in the CIF Southern Section.

“This is the closest gymnastics league to Ridgecrest,” noted Steve Marion, “and we are so excited to have a new team in the league.” Marion, with 50 years experience as a gymnast, coach, gym owner and judge, is the judges coordinator for the league, whose teams are centered in the Long Beach area.

“What [Burroughs] is doing here is just amazing,” he said. “I’m ecstatic that we are growing the league, but more importantly, we have the opportunity to grow young athletes and expand their view of the world through the sport.”

Pictured: Coach Rose Bonaventura (left) and the BHS gymnastics team. -- Courtesy photo

Story First Published: 2017-04-07