Lady Bees top Medina at state tournament to win 19th-straight state title

by Sheldon Ocker
If the Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School gymnastics team ever adopted an official motto, it probably would be “and counting.”

As in, the Lady Bees’ streak of state championships has reached 19 “and counting.” And no, Ohio does not crown a new title holder each week or every month. BBHHS hasn’t lost a state gymnastics championship for almost two decades, beginning before any competitors on this year’s team were born.

Among other obstacles to success – such as every team in Ohio targeting the Bees each season – is mounting pressure. Every new title creates a little more stress for the girls who come next.

“Yes, there is pressure,” said Lady Bees head coach Maria Schneider. “Everything comes to an end eventually. And no girl wants to be on the team that ends it. And nobody wants to be the coach who is there when it ends.”

If a winning streak is composed of several moving parts, Schneider has had as much to do with shaping them into a unit as anyone, except her mother, Joan Ganim, who developed the team into a state powerhouse before Schneider took over the program and continued the streak for three more years, and counting.

Ganim and her husband Ron started Gymnastics World in 1978, holding gymnastics and tumbling classes in a 4,000-square foot facility in Broadview Heights. Seven years later, they ran out of space and moved into 23,800-square-foot space. Eventually, Joan began coaching the high school team, a fortuitous event akin to Bill Belichick taking over the reins of the New England Patriots football team. But even Belichick hasn’t won 19 consecutive Super Bowls.

The National Federation of States High School Associations – which puts out rule books and scorebooks for at least 16 sports plus speech and debate teams – believes the Brecksville-Broadview Heights streak is the longest ever for a high school gymnastics team.

The Lady Bees defeated second-place Medina 147-145.025 in this year’s state tournament. In gymnastics, a nearly-twopoint margin of victory is not a squeaker. Competitions often are decided by tenths of a point.

“I would say a two-point win is like a basketball team winning by 10,” Schneider said. “But it’s not a blowout.”

If there was a moment of stress for the Lady Bees, it came in the balance beam

“We had five falls on the beam, which is uncharacteristic for us,” Schneider said. “It was our last event, and we came in ninth. Medina was having a very good day, so it was a little nerve wracking.”

In individual events, Gianna Ravagnani and Erin Delahunty were co-champs in the vault; Ravagnani won floor exercise, with Delahunty and Lindsey Kern tying for fourth; Delahunty was third and Ravagnani was fourth in all-around. Making the All-Ohio team were Delahunty, Kern, Ravagnani, Jenny Bandsuh and Ella Shaheen.

Schneider said none of her four seniors plan to perform in gymnastics in college, but she thinks Ravagnani, only a freshman, will have that option if she chooses.

“She’s like a little firecracker,” the coach said. “I think she could make it at a Division I school.” ∞