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New Homestead gymnastics coach brings record of success to established program

Highlanders were fifth in state last season

Dec. 13, 2011

Mequon - New Homestead gymnastics coach Mike Giles brings a great deal of experience to a veteran Highlander team that hopes to get healthy and make another strong run like it did last season when it took fifth in state.

Giles' history includes having coached gymnastics for close to 39 years, including the strong area club La Fleur's in Germantown.

He is also a 24-year veteran of the Army, including 16 years in the special forces.

"I've worked with girls in classes, but this is the first organized girls team that I've worked with," he said. "I'm spending a lot of time learning the rules. … I've had a lot of success from little kids all the way up to Olympians."

He will build around state meet veterans like seniors Cori Sanduski and Alex Holtz, both of whom are still nursing nagging injuries. There are a total of three varsity performers out with injury at this moment and Giles is hoping to get most of them back soon.

Sanduski was second on balance beam and in floor exercise as well as fourth on bars at the state meet last year

Other varsity candidates include junior Amy Schiman; sophomores Elyssa Tracy, Brittany Emond, Monica Caputa and Amanda Hopkins; and freshmen Nia Feaster and Tori Puhl.

"I'm anticipating a lot of competition on this team," Giles said. "…It's been fun in practice so far with a lot of learning on both sides going on. Everyone has been outstanding so far."

The Highlanders won their opening meet on Dec. 8 against Shorewood by a 134.05-101 margin.

Giles' short-handed team then took sixth in the powerhouse Waterford Emerald Invitational last Saturday.

In the invitational, Giles said his team was up and down, finishing with 131.175 points. Burlington won with 143.8 points.

Hopkins was sixth on vault with an 8.975 score, while Emond was fourth on uneven bars with a 9.025, sixth on beam with an 8.825 and fourth in the all-around with 35.325 points.

"With the injuries it was kind of difficult for us to move up," Giles said. "It's been a typical beginning with a good group of kids. We're going to be fairly strong as we have a lot of talent. We're just going through some growing pains right now."

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