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Senior Carly-Anna Barba claimed fourth place in the all-around to lead the Hand gymnastics team to a third-place finish at the SCC Championship on Feb. 13. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Junior Kayla Cataldo and the Tigers placed third at SCCs last week and are eager to compete at the State Championship meet at the end of the month. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Morgan McMahon continued her solid freshman season with Hand gymnastics when she participated in the SCC Championship at Jonathan Law High School last week. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
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Hand gymnastics Head Coach Kelly Smith had some big expectations for her squad entering the Southern Connecticut Conference Championship. After all, the Tigers had taken first place in SCCs for 10 years in a row prior to finishing second last season. With a young club, Hand lived up to Smith’s expectations and then some by finishing in third place at the SCC meet at Jonathan Law High School on Feb. 13.
The Tigers finished with a team score of 123.15 points to take third at SCCs. Law finished first with a score of 126.6, and Mercy came in second place by scoring 126.4 points.
“We came in ranked No. 3, and we left in third place,” Coach Smith said. “We had some really great performances and individuals that earned recognition for their performances, and that was great to see.”
Senior Carly-Anna Barba, junior Kayla Cataldo, and freshman Morgan McMahon were three of the Tigers’ prominent performers at the SCC Championship. Barba finished in fourth place for the all-around with a score of 32.1 for Hand. She took second place on the floor (8.6), third for the vault (8.4), and came in sixth on bars (7.4).
Cataldo finished fifth for the floor with a score of 8.1 on her way to placing 10th all-around at 29.55. McMahon posted a score of 8.3 to come in fourth place on the floor. Sophomore Paige Dean turned in a sixth-place performance on the beam by scoring a 7.75.
Barba, Cataldo, and McMahon each earned All-SCC honors on behalf of Coach Smith’s squad.
“The girls have been working hard and should walk away from this meet mostly pleased, overall, but with a drive to get back in the gym and back to work before the State Championship,” said Smith. “We were right there, and I hope we can get back to winning it again next year. That’s always the goal.”
Hand came into the 2019-’20 season with a relatively inexperienced roster. Smith said the Tigers made a few mistakes at SCCs that likely stemmed from the nerves of competing on the postseason stage for the first time.
“We did a lot of work around being mentally prepared for the pressure of a championship meet,” she said. “But there were definitely some nerves and that played a factor in our overall performance.”
Coach Smith and the Tigers are looking forward to finishing their regular season on a high note. With its record of 9-3, Hand will close the regular season with a matchup against Law and then a tri-meet versus Fairfield Ludlowe and Fairfield Warde this week.
The rankings for the State Championship meets will get released on Wednesday, Feb. 26. Smith believes that the Tigers are in good shape to qualify.
“Our goals for those two [regular-season] meets are strong team scores to ensure we make states, and strong individual performances,” said Smith. “For anyone who is close or trying to make the State Open, a strong individual performance will really bolster their résumé.”
The state meets take place on Saturday, Feb. 29. Smith thinks that Hand will be competing at either the Class M State Championship or the Class S State Championship.
“Last year, we were Class S,” Smith said. “For gymnastics, they take the top-24 teams in the state and then divide those 24 by size, so it depends on who those 24 teams are. I have a feeling we might be S again, but we’ll definitely be S or M.”
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