Hand Gymnastics Sweeps Meet to Stay Perfect in SCC
Published February 05, 2014. Last updated 12:15 p.m., February 05, 2014
For Hand gymnastics, it is heading into the SCC Championship the usual way it prefers and that is with a perfect conference mark for the regular season.
The Tigers hosted conference foes Hamden and North Haven on Jan. 28 and tallied 129.3 points to defeat both squads and improve to a perfect 10-0 on the campaign and 7-0 inside the SCC. Hand outlasted the Indians (125.25) and the Green Dragons (89.6) thanks to victories in three of the five events with junior Abby McGuirk capturing the bars (scoring a 9.0), floor (8.9), and all-around (35.35).
"I think tonight was one of my stronger performances this season, and we all did very well as a team," said McGuirk, whose Tigers have won the conference title the last five years. "Our team has worked so hard to refine our skills and nail our routines, and being undefeated helps our confidence that much more. We have worked so hard and earned our spot at SCCs, and I know we are going to do great."
For the vault competition, North Haven's Marie Facin won the event with a 9.0, yet not far behind her were McGuirk (2nd, 8.9) and sophomore Erin Maxwell (3rd, 8.6). Elsewhere for the Tigers, senior tri-captain Julie Keenan scored an 8.2. Moving onto the bars, McGuirk was joined in the top three with freshman teammate Lily Spencer (3rd, 8.15), while those two were also accompanied by sophomore Meredith Ovian (7.2) and junior Lauren LaChapelle (7.0).
"Overall, I thought the performances were strong, and it was an exciting meet, because the majority of our lineup used this meet to rest. This allowed for a lot of the other gymnasts to compete and show off their routines," said Keenan. "We saw a lot of improvements from our previous meets because a lot of the competitors are gaining confidence."
The Indians also took home the beam's top spot on this night thanks to Gabrielle Gontarek's efforts and an 8.75, but McGuirk again gave a strong second-place showing with her 8.7. Not to be outdone, Maxwell added an 8.1, Keenan came through with a 7.55 performance, and LaChapelle tacked on a 7.6 score.
"Our season has been awesome so far; everyone on our team is very positive, which has always brought us a long way," said senior tri-captain Kendall Goodman. "We still definitely have a lot to work on if we want to bring home another SCC title, and better yet a 15th state title. This means working hard at practice every day and being aware of our personal flaws on the events."
Heading to the floor exercises, Maxwell followed up McGurik's first-place triumph with her 8.3 showing, while Goodman and Gontarek split third on their 8.0 scores before Keenean contributed a 7.0 for the event.
"I was really proud with the girls' performances tonight. Everyone turned in good routines, and we had some athletes really step up, step in, and turn in solid performances, especially our seniors," said Head Coach Kelly Smith. "Julie Keenan hitting three events, especially beam, was great; [senior] Aimee Merkle Scotland nailed her beam routine, which was certainly a highlight. Kendall Goodman was great on floor earning an 8.0 and tying for third-highest score of the night. [Senior] Emma Mills had fun dancing to her new floor routine."
The Tigers, though, dropped their first contest of the season to move to 10-1 after a 141.3-139.5 decision versus Glastonbury on Jan. 31. Senior Stefani Taschner scored 35.95 in the all-around, 9.55 on floor, and 9.1 on vault; senior tri-captain Kendall Jerzyk tallied 35.25 all around, 9.3 on vault, and 9.15 on floor; senior Maria Iennaco added 33.6 all around, 8.9 on floor, and 8.7 on floor; freshman Lily Spencer collected 9.0 on beam, 8.3 on floor; senior Ashlyn Thompson contributed 8.6 on vault; and Maxwell scored 8.9 on beam, 8.6 on floor.
"Heading into SCCs, we pretty much just want to push numbers at practice and get our routines as strong as possible," said Keenan, whose Tigers look for a sixth-straight SCC crown at the championship meet on Friday, Feb. 7 at Law.