An All-Around Effort

Individual excellence adding to team success for Colonials, Patriots

By Brad Stratton
Staff Writer

Team unity.

If a team has it, it can push them to a championship. Without it, it can mean disaster.

With the Shore Conference Championships approaching on October 27, several talented individuals at both Freehold Boro and Freehold Township have qualified on an individual level. However, with three weeks remaining until the tournament, both the Patriots and the Colonials are focused on winning for the team.

For the gymnasts of Freehold Township, team unity is on the way up from earlier in the season. So are the Patriots, who have already matched its win total from last year.

“I’m really pleased,” Freehold Township gymnastics coach Dana Karas said. “The overall team scores have improved by over 15 points from last year.”

At Freehold Boro High School, team unity is the name of the game. It has been an important ingredient in the Colonials’ season thus far, leading the team to an impressive record with only one loss.

According to Freehold gymnastics coach Richard Dyk, this year’s team has been one of the tightest teams he has coached since he started at Freehold in 1988. “It’s hard to even describe it,” Dyk said, “but they all think like they’re one. They all get along great, and I’ve never had a team like that. This is probably the best all-around team that we’ve had, because they are so unified.”

Their only blemish this season came in a loss to highly-regarded Red Bank Catholic, falling to the Caseys by a three-point difference, 103.75-100.75. However, many of the team’s gymnasts look at that loss as the high point of the season.

“We were 3-0 going into RBC,” Colonials senior Allison Ryan said, “and we gave them a scare. It was a lot closer than we ever thought we could be to them.” As the captain of the team, Ryan has been an instrumental part of the Colonials’ success. From starting in gymnastics at age 3, she has become one of the best (uneven) bars’ gymnasts in the state. Graduating in June, she is optimistic about continuing her gymnastics career at James Madison, hopefully with a scholarship.

Besides Ryan, the sole senior on the team, Freehold also sports a multitude of talented youth, including sophomores Vicky Lent and Kari Niedrich. The Colonials saw a glimpse of the future in a recent win against Brick, with freshman Jacquelyn Verdon scoring an 8.95 to finish first in the balance beam.

Freehold Township also is getting a taste of things to come in freshman Katie Lane, who has overcame past injuries to provide consistent scores for the team. In the Patriots’ only win of the season, a 13.25-point victory against Neptune, Lane won two of the four events, and Freehold Township surpassed the 90-point barrier for the first time in Karas’ three years as coach.

While Lane offers some excitement as a freshman, the team also has its number of veterans. Senior Nicole Shenker has placed consistently in various events, while seniors Erin Boysen and Jocelyn Weuker and junior Christina Lane, Katie’s older sister, have also provided support for a team with ever-growing potential and unity.

“They’re working together more as a team than they have in the past,” Karas said. “We’ve been trying to include some more activities to unite them. They have sleepovers, went out to lunch one day. So we’re trying to do things more together as a group.”

Asbury Park Press (Freehold Reporter) – October 5, 2000