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Warde gymnastics preview

Three key performers are gone from last year's 4-6 team as the Fairfield Warde gymnastics team prepares for the 2013-14 season, but two all-conference performers are back for coach Darcy Appleby, who is in her 17th year. The Mustangs placed fifth of 10 teams in the FCIAC championships last February.

Warde, which finished fifth at the Class M championships last year, will be led by junior Kathleen Pisciotta, who was first team All-FCIAC and second team All-State last winter, and senior Tori Gallati, a second team all-conference selection. Pisciotta was fifth in the all-around at the FCIACs with a 32.85 score, placing third in the uneven parallel bars (8.2) and tied for fifth in the floor exercise (8.75). Gallati (31.5) was 15th in the conference all-around. Gallati competed in the all-around in the state meet, while Pisciotta was in the vault, bars and floor exercise in Class M.

Two other Mustangs who qualified for the Class M meet, senior Judith Klinga and junior Sophia Mancini, are back this winter. Klinga competed in the beam in the state meet a year ago. Mancini was in all four events in Class M and placed 17th in the FCIAC all-around (30.9).

Senior Kirstyn Lazor, sophomores Emma Spartaccino and Tess Shinbaum and freshman Veronica Bennett are the choices for Appleby to fill out the rest of Warde's rotation for the four events. At the start of practice in early December, three gymnasts were committed to competing in the all-around, leaving several open spots for competition among the Mustangs.

"We have a group of very hard working athletes. I look forward to watching them grow," Appleby said.

Appleby says Pisciotta and captains Klinga and Gallati will be working to qualify for the State Open, which they were unable to accomplish in 2012-13.

The season opens on Jan. 3, 2014 with a home meet against Greenwich at the Gymnastics & Cheerleading Academy of Connecticut at the Sportsplex. On Jan. 20, Warde and Fairfield Ludlowe meet at Gymnastics & Cheer at 10:30 a.m.