Gymnasts close in on 140

Rachel Williams leaps across the beam during a victory over RHAM on Friday, Jan. 22.

Rachel Williams leaps across the beam during a victory over RHAM on Friday, Jan. 22.

By BRIAN JENNINGS
STAFF WRITER

The weekend snowstorm may have pushed the weekend gymnastics meet to Friday, Jan. 22, but having one less day to practice did not impose any adverse effects on the Lady Knights (5-0). If anything, it made them stronger.

The Knights reached their highest mark of the season in a 137.8-130.4 win over RHAM, sweeping the top score on vault, beam, and floor. Although no Lady Knight finished first on bars, as a team they claimed their highest bar score for the season, improving by two points over the past two weeks.

Taryn Meenan mounted the best all-around score of the meet with a 34.8. Meenan tied Vicky Castillo for the best overall score on vault (9.1) and led the Knights on bars (8.6). Meenan also finished third on floor and fourth on beam.

Castillo (8.8) paced the Knights on beam, finishing with the best overall score in the event by 0.1.

Kayla Birmingham held the second all-around score (33.75), tying Rachel Williams for the best overall score on floor (9.0) and finishing in third on vault and bars.

Rachel Williams (33.1) tied Kat Rothstein for second on beam and tied Megan Walsh for fourth on vault.

Natalie Rickard achieved her highest mark of the season with a second-place finish on bars, while team captain Jessie Kane trailed behind in fourth.

“Our goal from the beginning of the year was to hit a 135,” said Southington coach Kaitlyn O’Donnell. “And last week when we hit that 135 on Thursday with a bunch of mistakes, we realized that we’re capable of doing so much more. Our goal for tonight was a 137, so it was really great to go above the goal we had.”

O’Donnell said that her girls pushed hard at practice, and it is starting to show in their performances.

“We’re really training on a lot of beam routines, trying to upgrade little things on floor and bars, and get our endurance up,” the coach said. “Tonight, we competed with a lot of heart, but we’re trying to get to that 140 mark. We’re going to get as close to it as we can.”

O’Donnell said that stepping up more in practice and having it more like a meet has helped her girls build more confidence for competition.

“When we get to a meet now, I feel like we’re not as nervous because we kind of do that all week,” said O’Donnell. “So it’s just like another practice for them. Creating a competitive atmosphere during practice is really what started to help us.”

Meenan and Williams have been taking turns leading the Knights as all-arounders throughout the season. The coach said that they

compliment one another in practice or in a meet.

“You can push both of them and they’re not afraid to work hard,” the Southington coach said. “They do well with changing their routines around and pushing each other to do better. In the beginning of the year, we were a little shaky, but as the season started to go on, you can see their confidence boosting. Then their scores boost.”

O’Donnell went on to say that Meenan, Williams, and Birmingham are taking a leadership role in the gym.

The Knights will look to stay undefeated and strive for 140 when they host Farmington on Saturday, Jan. 30.

To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at bjennings@southingtonobserver.com.

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