Lancaster, chasing its third consecutive Section VI title, is counting heavily on a pair of gymnasts who helped it win the first two.
Junior Karen Stonitsch and senior Nicole Allen are back for the Redskins to defend their individual and team titles.
Stonitsch and Allen finished 1-2 in the All-Around competition at last year's Sectionals. The individual Sectional title went to Stonitsch in the balance beam and vault, while Allen won the uneven bars and floor exercise.
Six gymnasts who competed in the state meet last year return. Junior Liane Scardino (Sweet Home) went to states in three events. Juniors Kathleen Gavin (Hamburg) and Carla Wass (Lancaster) both competed in vault. Williamsville North junior Jenna Lewis was third all-around at last year's Sectionals.
1996 final state rankings: Class A -- 13 Lancaster, 18 Kenmore East. Class B/C/D -- 7 Williamsville South, 9 Lew-Port, 13 Grand Island, 15 Wmsv. East.
Defending ECIC champions: ECIC I -- Lancaster. ECIC II -- Williamsville North.
Perhaps the biggest question entering the 1997 season is whether two-time Section VI champion Bryan Murty can be beat. The Williamsville East freshman won the floor exercise, vault and horizontal bar on the way to last year's Sectional all-around title.
"He's been working on increasing his strength, and his skill level has improved," said coach Torey Hirsch.
Murty also led the Flames to the ECIC title with a 6-0 dual meet record.
Other returning Sectional champions are Adam Johnson of Kenmore (pommel horse), Williamsville East sophomore Steve Joyce (rings) and senior Eric Hernandez (parallel bars).
Returning state team members: Andy Causley (Amherst), Mark Sardo (Wmsv. East), Hernandez (Wmsv. East), Murty (Wmsv. East), Joyce (Wmsv. East), Vasco Valov (Wmsv. North), Johnson (Kenmore).