caption, page 2:

Jenna Davidson

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Woodstock Academy with state plaque
Abby Vaida
Grace Gronski (bars)

Gymnasts tops
in state - again
Winning a state championship never gets old.
The Woodstock Academy gymnastics team continued its dominance in Class S by winning its sixth straight state championship, 139.175-132.8, over Mercy High School at Pomperaug High School in Southbury Feb. 24.
“I’m proud that we’ve been able to keep it up and we can see it keep going for years to come. We’re going to keep moving in that direction,” Centaurs coach Kasey Tocchio said of the continued success.
The Centaurs won two Class M championships before being shifted to Class S making this the eighth straight overall state title.
But with that streak comes a little pressure.
“You don’t want to be the team that ends the streak. I had faith in this team all along and I knew we were going to do it,” said junior Ali Crescimanno.
That pressure may have taken a little toll early in the championship meet.
The Centaurs didn’t get off to a great start.
Both Crescimanno and Jenna Davidson had troubles on the opening event for the Centaurs – the vault.
“Two of our bigger scoring vaults, we didn’t really have. It was a downer,” Tocchio said.
Crescimanno scored an 8.75 while Davidson settled for an 8.5.
“I over-rotated on my first vault and didn’t find the landing. On the second one, I landed really short and felt a pain in my ankle,” Crescimanno said.
While Crescimanno limped off to The Academy bench to get her left ankle taped, Davidson sought out the comfort of her teammates, walking down the length of the run way with the disappointment clearly etched on her face,
But Davidson said that’s why it pays to have a short memory.
“It’s not hard,” Davidson said of being able to recover from the disappointing first event. ”You just have to look to the next event and try to help your team out.”
Maddie Grube led the Centaurs in the vault with a 9.1 while Elise Boisvert added an 8.875.
Tocchio saw the team as a whole was hanging its head a bit so she and assistant coach Gene Michael Deary decided to call a quick team meeting prior to the second event – the bars.
“I told them that we still had a meet to finish. We still had to place in the top four (to qualify for the State Open). We couldn’t throw that away. We knew that in this meet, we were ahead by a lot compared to (Mercy). It was the bigger picture. Can we finish this meet? Can we still get a big score?” Tocchio said.
“We had a chat about how we all need to focus and forget about it and to think about how we all could do well as a team. It got better,” Grace Gronski, just a freshman, said.
There were a lot more smiles following the bars competition.
Crescimanno, despite the tweak, was able to keep going.
She finished with a 9.175 on the bars, best on the team.
“I felt good and I was so proud of the team,” Crescimanno said. “We didn’t let the first event affect us at all. We just stayed in the zone and got the outcome.”
Davidson, just a sophomore, finished with an 8.45 and Gronski added an 8.4.
The contributions of younger athletes, like Gronski, have been important all season long.
Crescimanno just got back on the apparatus at the beginning of the season due to an auto accident over the summer. Davidson had issues with both knees and her ankles and Lydia Taft has been out all season with a back issue.
“I’m so proud of the ones who stepped up, Elise (Boisvert), Abby (Vaida) and Grace (Gronski) who really contributed to this team. They have done an awesome job. They have all upped their start values. They are all doing harder skills than last year and without that heart of the team, we wouldn’t be where we are,” Tocchio said.
The Centaurs survived on the beam where Grube was best with an 8.65.
“It definitely was tough,” Grube said. “The judges were scoring a little hard, but we just pushed through and stayed confident. We just wanted to get our scores up.”
Davidson finished with an 8.6 while Crescimanno added an 8.5.
Abby Vaida was best on the floor with a 9.175.
The floor was the only event where the Centaurs had more than one athlete score over nine with Crescimanno (9.075) and Gronski (9.025) also eclipsing the mark.
The individual scores were not all that important as only the team scores are kept in the state championship meet and no individual All-Around champion is named.
But the team score did say something.
The 139.175 total was third best on the day with Class L champion, Greenwich, scoring a 143.1 and L runner-up, Trumbull, posting a 142.2.
That will play a role this week when the State Open championship, bringing all three divisions together takes place at Pomperaug beginning at 10 a.m. March 3.
“Those are two strong teams,” Tocchio said of Greenwich and Trumbull. “There is no defense in gymnastics. We just do what we can do and that’s what we’re focused on. All we want to do is give it our best.”
Tocchio said the biggest focus during the week will be the confidence factor. She thinks, obviously, they can improve in the vault, but she was satisfied with the rest of the performances although the scores were a little lower than the Centaurs are used to.
The Centaurs have won the Open championship since 2012, so it will be different going into this weekend without the target on their back.
“It is odd,” Crescimanno said. “It’s not our goal. Our goal is to stay confident. It would be nice to win (the Open title), but that wasn’t our goal going into the season and it’s still not. If we all hit, however, there is no reason why we can’t go 142.”
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director

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