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Staff Reporter 

Lady Blackhawk gymnasts fine-tune their mat skills


Last updated 1/17/2019 at 5:37pm

Cheney High School’s inexperienced gymnastics team fought hard at University High School on Jan. 10 but couldn’t quite measure up to Spokane’s larger schools, coming in fourth place in the tournament with 108.350 points.

The Lady Blackhawks finished just over 40 points behind University High School’s 148.450 points. Lewis and Clark took second with 154.700 points while Central Valley claimed the top spot with 158.925 points.

Cheney sophomore Lauren O’Callaghan made her mark on the competition, placing eighth all-around with 31.200 points and eighth on vault with 8.000 points. She also snagged the fourth-place bars trophy, notching 7.675 points.

Lady Blackhawk senior Makayla Miller also placed, with 12th-place all-around with 29.100 points and a 10th-place finish on bars with 6.675 points.

O’Callaghan, Miller and Cheney senior Alexis Ewen all had their highest scores of the season on vault and floor at the event.

“Lauren and Makayla have lots of experience, and though Alexis doesn’t have club experience, she’s just naturally athletic and coachable,” head coach Jamie Frucci said.

Frucci also recognized foreign exchange students Leonie Janda and Anne Borwieck for their stage presence and “being generally fun to watch.”

But the biggest surprise of the meet was freshman Kaitlyn Venarucci, who broke out of her shell in a big way after a few weeks of practice over winter break.

“Someone who stepped it up big was Kaitlyn,” Frucci said. “She’s been making huge improvements, is really positive and her floor score went up 1.5 points.”

The team is focusing on cleaning up their routines with straight legs, pointed toes and other details, Frucci said.

“It’s all about the clean-up now,” she said. “And they’ve been doing their routines for longer so they can do them more confidently.”

The gymnastics team takes on Mead Jan. 17 at the Mead Gymnastics Center on Freya Street.

Shannen Talbot can be reached at


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