The Valley gymnastics team recently put a bow on a solid regular season in which the Warriors steadily progressed under co-Head Coaches Carl Cavrell and Monica Bauer. The Warriors are currently ranked 23rd in the standings to reach the State Championship meet for which the top 24 teams make the final cut. Last week, the Warriors’ road toward reaching states saw them host their final two matches of the regular season at Flip-Flop Gymnastics in Deep River. On Feb. 16, Valley scored a 121.25 while facing Mercy and the Haddam-Killingworth/Hale-Ray/Coginchaug co-op and then the Warriors posted a 119.75 against the latter squad on Feb. 18.
“I think we showed steady improvement as the season went along, so overall, I’m pleased with our showing,” said Coach Cavrell. “We usually have a small team and this year we had seven gymnasts, which is a decent size because some years we’ve barely had enough athletes to compete. One thing I was really pleased with was how our start values have gotten better. As the year went on, the judges looked at our routines and would figure out what that routine was worth. Steadily those went up as the girls added more moves to their routines, the degree of difficulty went up, and that is a sign of solid improvement and that is what we like to see.”
On Feb. 16, Valley showed that improvement at its home meet with an overall score of 121.25 to place behind H-K/Hale-Ray/Coginchaug (136.30) and Mercy (128.85). It was the Warriors’ fourth-best score of the season and the fourth time they broke the 120-point barrier. In the first of four events, the Warriors’ squad was led by freshman Mikayla Bruton, who scored an 8.2 on the vault; along with junior Cassidy Kehlenbach, who also landed an 8.2. The rest of Valley’s performers on vault were senior captain Melanie Lee, who scored an 8.0, along with freshman Corinne Fowler (8.0), freshman Lily O’Neil (7.7), and junior Liza Miezejeski (7.4).
The next event was the beam, where Valley was led by Fowler (8.0), Bruton (7.5), Miezejeski (7.5), Lee (7.05), and O’Neil (6.5).
On the bars, Kehlenbach stood out with an impressive showing by scoring a team -high of 8.2, while the rest of the Warriors were competitive with Fowler (7.1), O’Neil (7.0), Bruton (6.8), Lee (6.6), and Miezejeski (6.6) performing for the squad.
In the floor routine, Valley was consistent with the freshman O’Neil taking the team’s top honor with an 8.2, while Fowler was close behind, scoring a 7.8. Miezejeski had a 7.4, Bruton posted a 7.3, Kehlenbach had a 7.0, and Lee finished with a 6.8.
“The girls have worked hard all year in practice and they have a great camaraderie,” Cavrell said. “Their skill levels have all improved and I’m proud of how hard they all work. Lily has really made strides. She’s quiet, even-keeled, and just works and works, but doesn’t get upset when she has a bad performance. She’s had some injuries, but battled through them to be a quality gymnast. Her overall meet total has risen from 27 to 31.2, which is a huge four-point swing.”
Next on Senior Night, Lee was honored before Valley’s Feb. 18 home meet versus H-K/Hale-Ray/Coginchaug. The opposition won the contest behind a total of 136.35. Valley didn’t have its best performance with its mark of 119.75, but it was enough to eliminate a lower score from earlier in the season. Teams qualify for states based on an average of their second-best through sixth-best scores from the season. Valley’s average is a 120.670.
“Senior Night was a nice moment with the flowers and Melanie definitely deserved to be recognized as she has done a great job as our senior captain,” Coach Cavrell said. “But it was a bit of a distraction for the team. I don’t think we were as focused as were a few nights ago and nobody could stay on the beam tonight. However, we were able to drop a lower score from this season and we didn’t have our best meet.”
Lee placed third on the vault with Valley’s high score of 8.10. Fowler (7.9), O’Neil (7.8), Brucker (7.8), and Miezejeski (7.4) rounded out Valley’s competitors for the event.
Kehlenbach (7.8) placed third on the bars to lead the way and was followed by Fowler (7.2), O’Neil and Lee (both with a 7.0), Miezejeski (6.8), and Brucker (5.2).
On the beam, O’Neil showed those improved skills her coach spoke about by scoring an 8.2 and Fowler finished with 8.15. Brucker posting a 6.8, Lee a 6.0, and Miezejeski had a 5.2.
For floor, O’Neil again put forth a strong showing with an 8.2. Lee had a 7.4, Miezejeski scored 7.3, Fowler earned a 7.1, and Brucker scored a 7.0 to close out the scoring for Valley on the night.
With the regular season finished, Coach Cavrell is focused his squad’s chances at extending its season by competing at the State Championship.
“I feel confident. Some teams still have meets left, so we can possibly get jumped in the rankings, but I think we have a good shot,” said Cavrell. “We improved from the beginning of the year and our average score is 120.67 and the totals have climbed from around 116.9 to a high of 123.6. Hopefully, we get in to the tournament and, if we do get there, maybe we can surprise some people.”
From the Sidelines
Carl Cavrell is the head coach of both Valley Regional and the Haddam-Killingworth/Hale-Ray/Coginchaug Co-op squad.
Valley gymnastics had seven meets this season with six coming at home. The Warriors’ lone road match was at Hand in Madison.
The Warriors’ point totals this season for each meet were 116.90 (on Dec. 28), 123.60 (Dec. 30), 121.45 (Jan. 7), 117.35 (Jan. 14), 123.55 (Jan. 28), 121.25 (Feb. 16), and 119.75 (Feb. 18).