NEW PALESTINE — Jenny Musselman and her husband welcomed their second child into the world in July.
Six months later, Musselman has seven more bouncing “babies” to rear.
The New Palestine gymnastics coach opens the 2013 season with 14 athletes — the most tumblers she’s had on the roster in her six years leading the program.
Included in the talented, expansive group are four freshmen and three sophomores who, combined with significant graduation losses by powerhouses Roncalli and Franklin Central, make the Dragons early postseason favorites.
“With what we have heard from the other schools, we’re the ones with the targets on our back,” Musselman said.
Roncalli, four-time defending sectional champs, are without the services of sisters Cassie and Kaitie Schultheis, who generally kicked butt and took names in leading the Rebels to a 38-0 regular season record in their four seasons. Franklin Central’s Emily Baker finished third behind the Schultheis girls in the sectional all-around last season, and she also graduated.
The Dragons, third as a team in last year’s postseason opening tourney behind the aforementioned squads, will host the sectional March 2.
Expected to contend for the all-around title is Kenzi Hoffman, the Dragons’ senior who placed fourth last year behind the Schultheis and Baker, then advanced all the way to the State Finals, notching a high of 24th place on the balance beam in the competition at Ball State University.
In the Dragons’ season-opener Tuesday at Connersville, Hoffman was in prime form, taking first place on the vault (9.2) and beam (9.05) and finishing second in the all-around (34.325). She helped the Dragons (102.95) turn back New Castle (93.75) and the host Spartans (93.65).