By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Lady Knights returned to Pomperaug High School for the state open on Saturday, March 3. She petitioned to compete on floor at the open after competing in a handful of meets during the regular season, but Rachel Williams finished off her high school gymnastics career on a high note.
Williams came into the meet with an average score of 8.65, which have put her around 35th out of 42 gymnasts, but she left as the only Knight to score above her average, jumping up to 16th with an 8.8.
“I think she had confidence in herself today, which was great because I didn’t see the confidence last week,” said Southington coach Kim Vaillancourt. “She was able to land it better. Sometimes when you’re not confident, you don’t always know when to land or how to be strong to land.”
A boost in Williams’ confidence was influenced largely by working most of this past week in the gym mixed with a little encouragement from her coach, according to Vaillancourt.
“I was telling her, ‘You gotta’ do this. C’mon, you have to be strong,’” said Vaillancourt. “She went out there strong and was ready to finish it.”
She also told Williams not to second-guess herself.
“She’s only been back for three meets, so it makes it hard not to second-guess yourself at first when you’re coming back,” said Vaillancourt. “So, today was the day.”
Natalie Reeves came in at 28th out of 39 with an average of 8.475 on bars and finished tied for 30th with a 7.85.Vaillancourt said that she was most pleased with Reeves’ dismount.
“She got it by the end of the season,” said Vaillancourt. “It was something we were working on all season, and she was able to compete it at states and here.”
Reeves is only in her freshman year. Vaillancourt said that it’s impressive for Reeves’ just to qualify for the state open and has a lot going for her next season.
“I think she’s going to work hard in her regular season for her club,” said Vaillancourt. “Then she’ll come back even stronger next year.”
Kat Rothstein was seeded 27th out of 45 with an average of 8.575 on beam and finished 32nd with a 7.8. Vaillancourt said that Rothstein’s beam routine was solid.
“She stayed on and did what she was supposed to do,” said Vaillancourt. “It was great for her last beam routine, that’s why she was in tears.”
Her score may not have reflected it, but Vaillancourt said that it was one of Rothstein’s better beam routines of the season.
“I the scores wouldn’t reflect it because it’s the state open, and at the state open, they’re very critical. They take everything,” said Vaillancourt. “If there’s something to take, they take it.”
Greenwich (143.525) won their first CIAC state open, ending Woodstock Academy’s (138.425) six-year reign as open champions. Trumbull (136.775) placed third, followed by Wilton (132.075). Adnerys De Jesus (Greenwich) was crowned champion in the all-around competition with a 37.675, finishing as the top gymnast on vault and bars with scores of 9.575. Emma Delia (Newtown) took the beam title with a 9.45, and Kelsey Fedorko (Greenwich) took the floor title with a 9.6.
Putting the season into perspective, Vaillancourt said that she thought her girls had a great year.
“We came in and did what we needed to do,” said Vaillancourt. “We started with rebuilding, and then we made it with three girls to the state open. Hopefully, we can make more of them get to the state open next year.”
For more in depth coverage, see our weekly print edition. To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.