By BRIAN JENNINGS
With only half of last year’s team returning this year, lack of depth was a concern for Southington coach Kaitlyn O’Donnell and the Lady Knight gymnastics team. But in their first meet of the season, depth was not an issue.
“Every person and score counts,” said O’Donnell. “It makes it special because everyone on the team has a spot and is important. It was cool to see those girls who didn’t get to compete last year compete for the first time.”
The Knights opened their season with a strong 131.5-121.65 win over Conard at home on Saturday, Jan. 14. The strong showing was just what the coach expected.
“That was our goal, and we surpassed the goal that we had set for ourselves,” said O’Donnell. “I think that it was a pretty strong start.”
Southington placed first in all four events. Kayla Birmingham sprained both of her ankles about a month ago, but she was still able to lead the Knights in all-around (33.45) and on vault (8.8).
“To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure how she was going to compete,” the coach said. “She was limited in practice, and we just started doing stuff again this past week. But she worked super hard over the summer, and it carried through to now.”
Birmingham also tied Kat Rothstein on bars (8.3).
“She actually did watered-down routines,” said O’Donnell. “She didn’t do her floor routines yet because she wasn’t feeling quite 100 percent. But to see her still do that well and not be at 100 percent was awesome.”
Rachel Williams led on beam (8.3) and floor (8.8).
“We had a little bit of first-meet jitters,” the coach said. “We did very well for ourselves, and I’m proud of how we started. But going forward, we’ll see a lot more from her.”
O’Donnell has yet to lose a single dual meet since taking over the program for the 2012-13 season and currently holds an overall coaching record of 28-0. Southington’s last loss came against Glastonbury on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 when the Knights fell, 145.2-140.85, to the Tomahawks.
The Knights will look to remain undefeated this week when they host RHAM on Monday, Jan. 16 and Hall on Saturday, Jan. 21.
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