By BRIAN JENNINGS
Although Southington missed qualifying for the state open as a team for the second-straight year, the Knights still managed to advance four gymnasts to compete as individuals.
The Lady Knight gymnastics team kept their seeding as the fourth-place team, scoring 131.3 points at the Class L championship at Pomperaug High School in Southbury on Saturday, Feb. 25.
Southington escaped the meet unscathed without any falls in all four events for the first time this season, and Southington coach Kaitlyn O’Donnell said that it was still a good meet for her girls.
“We knew going into the meet that we weren’t ranked in the top three,” the coach said. “The conversation we had right before we got to the meet was to not go down without a fight. We worked really hard all season, and that’s the attitude that we had. It showed in our performance.”
After coming into the meet with an average score of 133.07, Southington missed the state open as a team by six points. The Knights missed last year’s state open as a team by 0.125 points.
Greenwich (142.575) won the Class L title for the second-straight year after the Cardinals came into the meet with an average score of 138.28. Trumbull (140.7) came in with an average score of 138.39 and finished as runner-up behind Greenwich, followed by Fairfield Ludlowe (132.2) in third.
“The scoring was a little harsh on us, I felt,” said O’Donnell. “We were close to that third-place marker, but we were ranked fourth going in, and that’s exactly where we ended up.”
Normally, the floor competition is Southington’s highest-scoring event, but it would come from the long runway at the state meet. Southington’s highest mark came on vault, where they finished third with a score of 34.15.
“We hit good vaults,” said O’Donnell. “Everyone made their vaults, and they were all really clean. It wasn’t too surprising.”
Southington also placed third on beam (33.4), fifth on floor (33.75), and sixth on bars (30).
Rachel Williams paced the Knights by finishing ninth overall in all-around (33.3), leading the team on beam (T6th, 8.9). Williams also finished second on bars and tied for second on floor.
“Her beam routine is pretty much flawless,” the coach said. “She doesn’t move up there. She has very good focus and doesn’t notice anything else that’s going on around her. Her leaps and jumps are just so much higher than most people’s that it’s very impressive to watch.”
Kayla Birmingham had been fighting a season-long injury to both of her ankles. But she taped them, as she did for every meet this season, and still led on vault (9th, 8.825) and floor (9th, 8.75), finishing second on beam.
“All-around, she had a good day, but I thought her best event was floor,” said O’Donnell. “To have the longevity she’s had to compete in every meet on those ankles is really something. I know it’s been kind of tough for her with the injuries, but she did a great job finishing her last all-around meet at Southington.”
In her first season competing in all-around, Kat Rothstein led on bars (11th, 8) and tied for second on floor. Rothstein added a release on bars and cleaned up her entire routine from last year.
“As the season went on, she slowly got more confident and sure of herself in her routines,” the coach said.” She really has had a great year. I don’t think she’s fallen all year.”
Greenwich finished first on vault (36.575), bars (34.1), and beam (36.075), placing second on floor. The Cardinals were marshaled by Adnerys De Jesus who led the team on vault (1st, 9.6), bars (1st, 9.4), floor (1st, 9.6), and in all-around (1st, 37.725).
Samantha Markland of Trumbull had the top score on beam (9.6). Trumbull finished first on floor (35.9).
Williams, Birmingham, Rothstein, and Taryn Meenan will represent Southington in the state open at New Milford High School on Saturday, Mar. 4. Williams will compete on beam (14th, 8.8875) and floor (15th, 8.975), Birmingham on vault (20th, 8.9375) and floor (28th, 8.8), Rothstein on bars (36th, 8.35) and beam (39th, 8.4625), and Meenan on vault (25th, 8.8875).
The top four scoring teams from divisional championships who qualified to compete for the open team championship include Woodstock Academy (151.425), Greenwich, Trumbull, and Daniel Hand (137.3). The top gymnasts in each event include the following: De Jesus on vault (9.65), Logan Grace of Woodstock Academy on bars (9.6125), and Paige Stuyniski of Woodstock Academy on beam (9.7625), floor (9.575), and in all-around (38.1875).
For this week’s box scores, click here: (http://southingtonobserver.com/2017/02/28/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-march-3-edition/). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.