Gymnasts heading to Fla. invitational
Adrianna Beatrice has trained 15 years for this moment.
A 17-year-old senior at Beverly High, Beatrice competed in the all-around at the MIAA state meet in February. She is headed to Ithaca College this fall, where she will continue her gymnastics career at the Division 3 college level.
But first, on Friday and Saturday, she will represent the Bay State at the Senior Showcase Invitational in Fort Myers, Fla.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to compete on Team Massachusetts, and I’m looking forward to being with a whole different group of girls and bonding with them,” Beatrice said. “We have a very talented group of girls.”
She will be joined in Florida by six other seniors from the area on the state’s 21-gymnast squad: Gina Pomponi (Billerica), Kathryn Manning (Lowell), Sarah Muolo (Stoneham), Katherine Pitman (Swampscott), Loralee Smith (Beverly), and Jessica Whitehead (North Andover).
Tim O’Leary , the former girls’ coach at Bridgewater-Raynham Regional, knows what it takes to capture gold at the showcase.
“It’s really about depth and health,” said O’Leary, who has coached the Massachusetts national team to championships in 1998, 2001, 2003, 2005, along with a runner-up finish in 2010.
“We just hope most of them are done with their season, are training, and we go into the meet healthy.”
At the meet, the Bay Staters will be wearing blue leotards – homage to the blue and yellow that are affiliated with “Boston Strong,’’ and designed to honor victims of the Boston Marathon bombings last month.
Their bags, jackets, and T-shirts are also emblazoned with the words, “Boston Strong.’’
Once expenses for the meet are covered via fund-raising, they will donate any leftover money to the One Fund, according to coach Lisa Mansfield , the team president and also the girls’ coach at Wakefield High.
“That’s a complete bonus to the whole experience,” Pomponi said. “I’ve been part of things with my school, but being able to do one more thing for the foundation is great.”
“The people that lost their life, or [were injured] deserve some justice,” Beatrice added. “It’s amazing to be able to do that for them. I definitely think we’ll all have a sense of pride and be proud to be from Boston.”
Beatrice noted the difficulty of competing against unfamiliar foes on the national stage.
“This is totally different,” Beatrice said, who trains at the North Shore YMCA in Beverly.
After the showcase, she will compete in the YMCA National Gymnastics in Savannah, Ga. at the end of June.
Pomponi is headed to Roger Williams University, which does not have a gymnastics program. Thus, the showcase will be her final meet.
“It’s bittersweet, and very emotional,” said Pomponi, who has trained at All-Star Gymnastics in Chelmsford, where she competed as a freshman and sophomore before joining the girls’ team at Billerica.
“Because it’s your last meet, you put a lot of pressure on yourself,” she said. “But the coaches are reminding me it’s a fun experience, and I’m going to look back on it and be so happy about it and not put pressure on myself. I’m just doing what I’ve been doing for 16 years.”
Virginia has a hold on Shawsheen senior
On the plane ride home from an official visit to George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., one thought was racing through the mind of Devon Pratt .
“It was exactly what I was looking for,” said the Billerica teen.
Last week, Pratt, a senior standout wrestler and football player at Shawsheen Tech, signed his letter of intent to continue his wrestling career with the Patriots.
“I can’t wait to learn from Coach [Joe] Russell ,” Pratt said. “I think he can be one of the best coaches around, and Tommy Owen is an awesome coach. I can’t wait to learn new styles and crisp everything up.”
The 5-foot-11-inch, 170-pound was a cornerstone in his four years at Shawsheen, placing in the 103-, 119-, 138-, and 152-pound weight classes in the Division 1 North and state meets.
He finished with a 176-46 career mark, capturing the D1 North title at 138 pounds as a junior, and finishing second this season at 152. He was third at the all-state meet.
“Devon is relentless, and his work ethic is going to make him a good D1 wrestler,” Shawsheen coach Mark Donovan said.
Pratt aspires to be an All-American at George Mason, but is most excited to help reshape the program into a winner.
Strong on the mound
Worcester State senior pitcher Hannah Everson of Methuen posted a pair of wins and struck out nine batters to lead the Lancers to the ECAC Division 3 championship game. She pitched 6 2/3 perfect innings with five strikeouts in a 5-0 semifinal victory at Keene State. Everson belted her first career home run in the final, a 5-3 loss to Wheaton.