The race for 140 points; Knights improve by 3 points without full lineup

By John Goralski

Sports Writer

Lexi Rothstein catapulted herself off the the vault and twisted like a corkscrew before sticking her landing. Kayla Nati launched herself between the bars as if she was mad at gravity, and the Lady Knights stuck to the beam as if they had glue on their feet.

On Saturday, Jan. 19, the Lady Knight gymnastics team returned to competition without last week’s top scorer, but that couldn’t stop them.

The Knights rallied for five scores in the 9s. Southington swept through all four events and finished with the four highest scores in the all-around.

Southington improved to 2-0 with a 139.1 to 113.15 victory over Hall. Even more importantly, they moved up one position in the CIAC rankings with their score.

Lady Knight coach Kaitlyn O’Donnell was pleased with her team’s performance.

“I said that last week was first meet jitters, and this time we came out much more confident,” said the coach. “We trained all week. We knew what we had to work on, and I think we came out and did a much better job.”

Southington led from the start with Rothstein’s handspring full vault securing a 9.0. Nati followed with a powerful performance on bars (9.0), but it was the beam that really set the stage for the victory.

Once again, Rothstein paced the Knights with a 9.1 performance that included a perfectly executed back flip. Southington committed just one fall on beam compared to five the previous week.

“We knew it was a weak spot last week, and beam is always hit or miss. This week we hit, for the most part. We basically just did what we knew we could do,” said O’Donnell. “We talked about slowing down what we were doing, concentrating, and doing just one skill at a time. I didn’t want them thinking too far ahead, and I think that worked.”

The confidence spilled over to floor with a series of clean performances. Marilyn Sporbert and Rothstein both claimed 9.0 scores, and Southington came within striking distance of the 140-point barrier.

“It was the little things,” O’Donnell said. “We had straighter legs. Our toes were pointed. When we hit the floor, we kept our flow moving. We added just a few little things that we were missing last week, and that all worked to our advantage.”

Now, the Knights will take to the road with away contests at RHAM, Glastonbury, Farmington, and Wethersfield before returning to CATS in Cheshire for their final meet.

“I think that might actually be better because we won’t be here in our gym. We’ll be out somewhere else, and that helps create a competitive atmosphere out of our comfort zone,” said O’Donnell. “We just need to keep our pace, keep steady, and keep working. I think we’re on our way to 140.”

To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@ southingtonobserver.com.

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