Gymnasts are ready to make a leap forward

Natalie Reeves leaps across the beam at a meet last season, and she’s one of three veterans that will lead the Knights.

SPENCER DREHER

STAFF WRITER

Southington gymnastics went through some growing pains last season with their youth and lack of depth.  But the Blue Knights hit their stride at the end of last season, and head coach Cassidy Chamberland hopes that can carry over into 2020.

In 2019, Southington scored 126.8 points in the Central Connecticut Conference invitational, which not only was less than five points off the leader, but was the best score the Knights had all season.

Only one player was lost from that team due to graduation, Mychele Vaillancourt. But, along with Vaillancourt, the Knights will return a “big three” from a year ago, each juniors.

Natalie Reeves, who enters 2020 as a junior, had the best score of all competitors at the CCC invitational with 35.25.  She also qualified for the state open in each of her first two seasons. Other key returners for the Knights are also juniors, including Lizy Beaulieu and Kaylin Leifert.  Each also scored over 30 points in the CCC invitational and Leifert also qualified for the state open.

While those three players were the highlights from last season, the Knights could see contributions from others with a boost in roster size in 2020.

Southington will carry 16 players on the roster this season.  While there is only one senior in Katherine Drechsler, eight freshmen will take up half the squad.  Rylee Leclair, a sophomore, also saw action on the vault last season and could be an addition to the dynamic trio of Reeves, Beaulieu, and Leifert.

Chamberland, who is entering her second year as head coach, said that she knows her team has the skill and depth to improve off a rebuilding season in 2019.

“Our team doubled in size from last season which is great and will provide us with more flexibility for line ups on each event,” Chamberland said.  “Right now our goal for this season is to get more consistent with our routines. The skill level is there and now we need to focus on cleaning our routines up. We hope that by doing this we naturally will improve in the ranks from last season.”

Chamberland said there is a lot to look forward to with Southington this season and hopes to see more players qualify for the state open.

“We hope to have more girls make it to state opens this year,” Chamberland said.  “Mostly, with such a big team are excited to have a supportive team environment and bring enthusiasm to the sport so that each athlete looks back positively on their experience with high school gymnastics. We want them to have fun, be a family, and bring more awareness to the sport of gymnastics at Southington high school.”

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Spencer Dreher, email him at SDreher@SouthingtonObserver.com.

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