Gymnasts fall short of 4th straight title

Taryn Meenan finishes with a flourish at the Class L Championship.

Taryn Meenan finishes with a flourish at the Class L Championship.

By BRIAN JENNINGS
STAFF WRITER

The Lady Knights’ (134.45) three year state title streak came to an end when they finished as runner-ups to Greenwich (140.425) at the Class L state meet at Pomperaug High School on Saturday, Feb. 27.

The Knights, ranked fourth in the state with a 135.85 scoring average, came into the state meet with the second highest average score in the division, while the No. 2 Cardinals came in with the highest average score of 142.35.

Only Woodstock Academy (Class M) was ranked higher (145.47).

“We came in knowing that we were the underdogs,” said Southington coach Kaitlyn O’Donnell. “So I think really for us, it was just trying to do the best that we could. We didn’t really have the intention of beating them [Greenwich] because they were ranked so high ahead of us. We came in trying to get as close as possible to them, and I think we did a good job of trying to do that.”

Glastonbury (132.95) finished behind Southington in third place, followed by Trumbull (131.8) and East Lyme-Waterford-Montville at 130.975.

As a team, Southington finished second on vault (34.8), third on floor (34.25) and beam (33.6), and fourth on bars (31.8).

Taryn Meenan anchored the Knights with an all-around score of 34.55, leading the team on vault (8.875), floor (8.825), and bars (8.4). Meenan also tied teammate Kat Rothstein for the team’s best score on beam (8.45). Meenan, a junior, was the only Knight competing in the all-around for the third consecutive year.

“Taryn really stepped it up today,” said O’Donnell. “She hit all four events. She did great. It took us three years to get there, but she came out very confident today. So it was nice to see her get to do that.”

Rachel Williams trailed right behind Meenan with an all-around score of 33.6, finishing with the team’s second-best scores on beam and bars. Vicky Castillo placed second for the team on vault, and Kayla Birmingham finished second on floor.

Third-place contributions came from Birmingham on vault and beam, Williams on floor, and Hannah Weir on bars.

“I thought we had a really great beam day with one fall,” O’Donnell said. “We’ve been working so hard on beam the last two weeks that I was happy we stayed on for the most part. Although it was reflected in our scores, I thought we had a great vault day too.”

Adnerys De Jesus led the Cardinals in all four events with an all-around score of 38.575, performing the best overall scores in the meet on floor (9.725), vault (9.7), bars (9.6), and beam (9.55). De Jesus had the second highest all-around score at a division meet, second only to Class M champion Paige Stuynisky (38.925) of Woodstock Academy.

“She’s [De Jesus] great. She’s really good,” said O’Donnell.

Stunisky scored a 10.0 on beam, 9.8 on floor, 9.65 on bars, and 9.475 on vault.

Woodstock Academy (147.05), Greenwich, Daniel Hand (135.875), and Haddam Killingworth-Hale Ray-Coginchaug (134.575) will be moving on to the state open team competition, which will be held at New Milford High School on Saturday, March 5.

The Knights just missed the open by 0.125 points. However, Meenan, Williams, Birmingham, and Castillo will represent Southington in the individual competition with a chance to advance to the New England competition in Dracut, Mass. on Saturday, March 12.

“Anytime that you can have individuals qualify into the state open is a really great experience for them,” said O’Donnell. “I can’t wait to see what they do. Not making the open as a team by that much will just motivate the girls to work even harder.”

Although the Knights will not be making the trip to the open as a team for the state open, the Knights still put a successful season together, winning their conference championship and producing their fourth straight, undefeated regular season.

“That really speaks for our team and how hard we work,” the coach said. “Anytime you lose three all-arounders it’s a lot to rebuild, but I think we did a great job of doing that.”

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

Photos by BRIAN JENNINGS

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SP gymnast - Vicky Castillo on beam @ Class L Championship 030416SP gymnast - Taryn Meenan on vault @ Class L Championship #2 030416 SP gymnast - Taryn Meenan on bars @ Class L Championship #1 030416 SP gymnast - Rachel Williams on beam @ Class L Championship 030416 SP gymnast - Rachel Williams on bars @ Class L Championship 030416 SP gymnast - Vicky Castillo on vault @ Class L Championship 030416

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