By KEVIN ROBERTS
Southington gymnasts got a front row view of the best that Class L gymnastics had to offer during this past Saturday’s state championship meet at Jonathan Law High School in Milford.
The Lady Knights were the last team to qualify for the eight-team state meet, and they wound up in that eighth spot by the time the meet ended in the afternoon. Southington finished with a score of 119.825. Greenwich won its fourth straight state championship with a score of 137.95. Greenwich was followed by Fairfield Ludlowe (136.8) in second place and Fairfield Warde (132.225) in third place.
“I think they did OK. It wasn’t the exact outcome that we wanted, but we’re just really happy that we qualified for states and that we got here in the first place,” coach Cassidy Chamberland said. “I just told them we have nothing to lose right now, go out there and give it the best that you’ve got. That’s what they did today, so I couldn’t ask for much more than that.”
Sophomore Natalie Reeves led Southington with an all-around score of 33.075. She was followed by sophomores Lizy Beaulieu (30.1) and Kaylin Leifert (29.4). Senior captain Mychele Vaillancourt scored a 27.250 in the final meet of her career. Reeves had the top score on vault (8.675), uneven bars (8.0) and beam (8.0). Beaulieu claimed the top score on floor with an 8.5.
It was never about the wins and losses and where the team placed this season, according to Chamberland. She was looking for improvement each meet, which included getting better team scores, upgrading skills and improving individual scores.
“We knew that this year was going to be a rebuilding year for us,” Chamberland said. “I’m proud of them for this season and we’re looking forward to future seasons and seeing how we can improve from here.”
There was plenty of experience that Southington had to contend with at the Class L meet. Greenwich’s top three scorers were seniors, and the Cardinals also had two juniors compete. Two of those seniors advanced to this Saturday’s state open as all-around competitors. All seven of Class L’s other teams had larger numbers than the Knights, who listed eight on their roster in the meet program.
“In a couple years, maybe we’ll be at that level too, with all of our sophomores now being seniors, as well as having new girls come out for the team,” Chamberland said.
It was a building year for Chamberland on a personal level. She will wrap up her first year as head coach at Saturday’s state open.
“It was a really, really good learning experience,” Chamberland said. “I love coaching, I love building rapport with the girls. I had a really good experience and I’m looking forward to continuing my experience as a coach. It was nice because I was able to grow with them, so we’ll continue to do that.”
Southington had two individuals qualify for Saturday’s meet, which begins at 10 a.m. at New Milford High School. Reeves qualified for two events, the vault (9.0 average) and the uneven bars (8.2875). Leifert qualified on vault (8.5625).
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com