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03/15/2023 10:16 AM

Valley Gymnastics Wins Shoreline Title, Qualifies for Class S State Championship

The Valley Regional gymnastics team captured a Shoreline Conference crown while also qualifying as a group for the Class S State Championship, where the Warriors finished sixth. Photo courtesy of Julie Hartt
Senior Corallina Giuliano and the Warriors’ gymnastics squad claimed a Shoreline Conference crown this winter with a small but mighty roster of student athletes. Photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier
Senior captain Kendra Cika made Second Team All-State and qualified for the State Open Championship this winter for the Valley Regional gymnastics team, which also claimed a Shoreline Conference championship. Photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier

This winter, the Valley Regional gymnastics team sported a 10-person roster for its program. Now, while that may seem small in number, the Warriors more than made up for it with their might and effort from each individual member in and out of the gym–parlaying the way to grand postseason accomplishments.

After competing through their dual-meet season, which included facing Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC) schools such as Law, Hamden, Mercy, along with SCC and State Open champion Hand, the Warriors competed at the Shoreline Conference Championship on Feb. 13 at ABC Gymnastics and captured first place, with a total team score of 118.85.

Monica Bauer, who shared the coaching duties for the Warriors with Carl Cavrell, explained that her squad certainly worked diligently towards the conference crown, and they made sure to keep a steady mind, body, and heart through each routine for every single event.

“We worked hard this season on getting our new freshmen routines they could do well,” said Bauer. “We tried to maintain good form throughout our routines and tried to get some bonus points for putting more difficult dance connections together.”

At the Shoreline title meet, for the vault, senior captain Kendra Cika scored an 8.25, while sophomore Corina Pagliuco had an 8.2, freshman Kaleigh Dugan a 7.9, sophomore Holly Board a 7.85, and senior Isabella Giuliano a 7.8.

On bars, participants included Cika (6.1 score), Dugan (7.65), Board (6.4), Pagliuco (7.25), senior Corallina Giuliano (7.05), and freshman Bethany Erkkila (5.65).

With beam, Valley’s scores came from Cika (6.85), Pagliuco (7.7), Corallina Giuliano (7.0), Isabella Giuliano (6.55), Board (6.3), and Erkkila (5.64).

Then on the floor, Cika nailed an 8.3 tally, while Pagliuco added a 7.5, freshman Sadie Iselin notched a 7.1, Dugan scored a 7.3, Board earned a 7.0, and Erkkila saw a 6.8.

Another big feat for Valley this season was qualifying as a group for states, competing at the Class S State Championship on Feb. 25 at Law High School in Milford. The Warriors finished sixth out of eight squads with 123.3 points.

For that day, Cika scored an 8.6 on the vault, a 6.35 for the bars, an 8.375 on the beam, and 8.225 for the floor exercises. Pagliuco’s outing included an 8.475 for vault, 6.15 on bars, and 7.8 on floor.

Dugan had an 8.45 with the vault, 7.75 on the bars, plus 7.85 with the floor. Isabella Giuliano added an 8.325 for the vault and 7.65 with the beam. Corallina Giuliano scored a 6.7 on the bars and 7.8 with respect to the beam. Also competing for Valley were Board (7.8 on beam) and Iselin (7.0 on floor).

“We were happy to qualify for the [Class S] State Championship this season,” said Coach Bauer. “Our goal for next season is to qualify for states at a higher rank. We are excited to have some talented freshmen joining the team next year.”

Cika then qualified for the State Open Championship on March 4 at New Milford High School, earning Second Team All-State honors in the process. Bauer added that Cika earning the Open bid was the perfect campaign and career capstone to a sensational season for her.

“Kendra, our team captain, had a great season as an all-around competitor and qualified for the State Open as an individual on vault,” said Bauer. “Congratulations to her for making Second Team All-State!”

While singing the praises of her senior class that included Cika, Corallina Giuliano and Isabella Giuliano, as well as Julie Hartt (who served as the team’s manager this campaign), Bauer was equally proud of key underclassmen members of the roster who are ready to build upon their progress made this season to produce even grander feats next winter.

“Bella Giuliano was a seasoned senior this year and helped the team on beam and vault. Corina Pagliuco was a consistent all-around competitor and was one of our top scoring athletes,” Bauer said. “Holly Board improved so much from last season. Her vaults were powerful, and she scored well for the team. We were happy to have Corallina back on the team this year. She helped us bring up our bar average tremendously. Julie Hartt, our manager, was our team leader. Julie helped in so many ways this season. She relayed information, helped with team lineups, plus she was a score keeper at competitions and supported the girls throughout the whole season.”

One item that certainly works in Valley’s favor for the future is the emerging rookie class that saw plenty of reps and experience on the big stage via the state championship qualification.

“Our freshmen are ones to watch next season,” said Coach Bauer. “They will know what to expect and have a better idea of how high school gymnastics works. Sienna Joplin was Julie Hartt’s assistant this year and will have big shoes to fill next season. We look forward to Sienna taking on that responsibility.”

The complete 2022-2023 roster for the Valley Regional gymnastics team was composed of seniors in Cika, Hartt, Corallina Giuliano and Isabella Giuliano; junior Joplin; sophomores of Board and Pagliuco; and freshmen with Dugan, Erkkila, and Iselin.