Gymnasts survive the fall; Knights are shaky, but still claim back-to-back titles

By John Goralski
Sports Writer
Southington scored two falls on vault and one on the bars. Lady Knight gymnasts fell twice off the beam and twice on the floor. On Saturday, March 1, Southington athletes stumbled at times in the spotlight of the Class L Championship meet, but they never gave up.
It might not have been the perfect start to the 2014 postseason, but it was still good enough to claim the title. The Knights didn’t perform their best at the divisional meet, but their championship was never really in question.
Southington edged Trumbull by more than three points in a sport that’s measured in tenths and hundredths.
“We had kind of a rough meet. We all fell, but we had to just go out there and try our best. We hit our events on floor and we came out on top,” said senior captain Kayla Nati. “Last year was even worse. We had 13 falls on beam alone. This year we had falls in every event, and that sort of added up to this, but it was still an improvement over last year.”
Despite the rocky start, Southington set the highest team score in every one of the four events. Marilyn Sporbert powered the Knights on vault with a 9.2. Vicky Castillo set the standard on bars (8.8), beam (9.225), and floor (9.05) with top four finishes at the meet in her last three routines.
“Vicky really stepped up and carried us through,” said Lady Knight coach Kaitlyn O’Donnell. “We survived. That’s how I like to think about it. We have a lot of injuries right now, and we’ve been changing things around here and there. I think that showed today, but we made it through. We made it to the next round, and that’s all that matters.”
Castillo, Sporbert, and Nati scored in all four events for the Knights. Lexi Rothstein scored on vault and beam, while Taryn Meenan scored on bars and floor. Southington finished with 138.375 points. Trumbull (135.325) finished second, and Fairfield Ludlowe (133.45) finished third. Conference rival Glastonbury (133.275) fell to fourth place overall.
“We worked hard this season,” O’Donnell said. “We had two undefeated regular seasons, and this is just the icing on top.”
On the other hand, the Knights enter the state open as the No. 3 seed in the team competition. Woodstock Academy (150.2) cruised to a 20-point win at the Class S meet to claim the top seed. Hand (142.275) earned the third seed with their performance at the Class M championships, and Trumbull will round out the four-team competition.
O’Donnell said that Southington can close the gap with a good week of practice, and she expects the Lady Knights to earn a New England championship berth as a team.
“We were a little off today, but it’s all little stuff that we can go back and fix. It wasn’t huge mistakes. It was just little bobbles and stuff,” she said. “I’ve seen them both compete (Woodstock and Hand), and for us we really just have to hit. That’s what it’s all about now. Who’s going to hit the best?”
The Knights will face-off against both squads this Saturday at New Milford High School. The competition is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.
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By John Goralsk Vicky Castillo leaps between the bars at the Class L meet on Saturday, March 1.

By John Goralsk
Vicky Castillo leaps between the bars at the Class L meet on Saturday, March 1.

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