Gymnastics: Knights capture first state open title

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The magical season did not  stop at the Class L championships last week, as Southington took home their first state open team title, outscoring perennial powerhouse, Woodstock Academy, by just over a half a point.  Woodstock Academy had won the state open in seven of the previous eight years.

“Woodstock Academy has been a great team for years, and St. Josephs was big competition as well,” head coach Cassidy Chamberland said.  “It was a really good experience for our girls to see and be in competition with such great athletes. It was rewarding to come together as a team and see the girls perform as best they could to capture the title.”

The state open didn’t begin crowning a team champion until 2009, and Southington was the runner-up on four different occasions since that season.  The Knights finally shook off those second-place blues with their performance last Saturday at New Milford High School.

To capture the team title, the Lady Knights placed first on the vault (35.2) and bars (33.575), while finishing second on beam (33.475) and floor (34.375). St. Joseph’s finished first on beam (34.525), and Woodstock won floor (35.575). Southington (136.625) edged Woodstock (136.1) and St. Joseph’s (135.325) to clinch the state open title. Stonington (132.175) finished fourth.

“For the girls I think this is something they will remember forever, and I look forward to them taking in the recognition that they will receive in the coming weeks,” Chamberland said.

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Kat Drechsler finished ninth in total scoring with 35.05, including a fifth-best score of 9.1 on the vault.  Drechsler also scored an 8.85 on the floor and 8.65 on the beam.

Kelly Perrotti contributed to the scoring in two events, but they were both top 10 finishes.  The junior scored a fifth-best 9.15 on the bars and 9.025 on the vault, which was just behind her teammate, Drechsler, in seventh place.  Individually, Perrotti finished with a total score of 34, which tied for 15th place.

Natalie Reeves contributed to the scoring in all four events, including an 8.675 on the floor, 8.5 on the bars, 8.375 on the vault, and 8.35 on the beam.  Kaylin Leifert scored 8.5 on the floor and 8.225 on the beam.  Taylor Kelly was fourth best on the team on the bars with 7.475 and also scored 8.25 on the beam.  Lizy Beaulieu contributed on the vault with 8.7.

With the exception of the senior, Drechsler, the other five Lady Knights who competed at the open will return in 2020, making them a heavy favorite to defend their 2020 title.

“This group of girls is awesome, and I can’t wait to share another season with the returners,” said Chamberland.  “We will continue to work to build the program beyond this year, and I think the recognition this season will encourage more girls to continue to come out for the team and be a part of this family.”

With their state open title, the Lady Knights were set to compete in the New England championships.  However, Chamberland said the championships were cancelled due to concerns about the coronavirus.

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