HUDSON — Disbelief crossed every Algonquin gymnast’s face as the final team results were announced at Saturday’s South Sectional meet. The reigning state champions for two years running placed fifth, one spot short of a trip to the state meet.
The Tomahawks’ score of 142.75 would have been enough to qualify last year, but this time around, the top four scores were all better than 2012’s best. Perfection, or close to it, was necessary to get to the states.
Barnstable won the meet, at Hudson High School, with a score of 147.25, followed by Sharon (144.35) and Nauset (144.075). Mansfield picked up the last state qualifying spot with a 143.125. Wellesley, which came in second last year, also failed to qualify, landing in sixth place with a 141.7.
The Red Raiders were first in the vault (36.475) and the floor (37.775), second in the bars (36.9), and third in the beam (36.1).
“We hit our vault, which was a big plus for us, and we had a great bar set, one of our best,” said Barnstable coach Duncan Chase. “There were a little nerves on the beam and then we really shined on floor. Now we have to get back together and get healthy again.”
Lauren Hansen, Jillian Fraser, and Tali Twomey all finished top five in at least one event and the team’s combined floor score was the highest of the morning.
“Last year we came in third, so we have so much more energy going into the state meet this time,” said teammate Ashley Barattini. “We feel awesome and we know we can do better.”
The top individual scorer was Sharon senior Samantha Kaplan. Her score of 37.9 just edged Wellesley senior Christina Perry’s 37.875. Nauset received big boosts from Kasey Kilmurray (37.425) and Kim Stewart (37.350), who finished third and fourth in the all-around.
Heading into the final rotation, Nauset was in fourth place and held just a .075 lead over Mansfield. Cool under pressure, the Warriors combined for a 37.325 in the floor and earned their first trip to the state meet.
“We hit bars,” said Stewart, a senior. “We had, like, our highest bar score ever. We were a little shaky on beam. But coming into floor, we were pretty confident. We didn’t even know how close we were.”
“Third! Not even fourth!” screamed coach Jen Watkins. “We were hoping for fourth place, to just sneak in. We were depending on the same kids because we don’t have much depth.”
The North Sectional meet followed, and fifth-seeded North Andover shocked everyone. The Scarlet Knights didn’t even qualify for sectionals last year, yet found themselves hoisting a first-place trophy Saturday night.
North Andover (144.125) blew past the competition, finishing first in the beam (37.475) and floor (35.3), second in bars (35.7), and fourth in vault (35.650).
“We nailed our worst event, the vault, as best we could,” said North Andover coach Jennifer Mangano. “We were good on the bars and when we nailed the beam, we knew we were going to states. We didn’t know [what place] but we knew we were going.”
Sophomore Nicole Stevens finished second behind Beverly’s Heather Gomes (38.1) with a 37.975 in the all-around. Freshmen Julia Montecalvo and Madeline Shea made a huge impact, said Mangano.
Beverly (143.1), Newton South (142.125), and Andover (140.9) also qualified for the state meet.