BRAINTREE — One more pointed toe. One straighter leg. One softer landing.
Those were the differences between state champions and runners-up in Wednesday night’s MIAA boys’ gymnastics state final, and Attleboro had just enough of them.
The Bombardiers edged Newton North by 0.35 points, finishing with 176.25 to the Tigers’ 175.90 to take home the state championship.
“This is just unbelievable,” said Attleboro coach Dick Seibert, who also won eight state titles in his 20 years as the Braintree coach. “I figured this meet was going to come down to tenths. I thought we always had an outside chance, but I didn’t think we were going to pull it off.
“When they read Newton North off as second place, I was just totally blown away.”
Boasting the largest roster in the state with 32 gymnasts, Attleboro capitalized on its depth to earn every last one-100th of a point that it ultimately needed to take home the title.
Junior Matt DePippo led the Bombardiers with an all-around score of 45.60. Also placing in events were Justin Adams, Joe Curti, Tyler Fuller, and the team’s lone senior, Avi Nerenberg.
Defending state champion Andover was not far behind, placing third with a score of 174.65.
Jonathan Wang turned in a dominating performance for Newton North, winning the all-around with a score of 53.95 and taking first in every event. The sophomore evoked audible gasps around the gymnasium during his routines, especially on the vault, floor, and high bar where he earned scores of 9.45, 9.40, and 9.30, respectively.
“It feels great,” said Wang, who is competing in his first season with the Tigers. “I want to thank my team — they made it a really fun season.”
Looking back to when he took over at Attleboro in 2011, Seibert said he was proud of how far the program has come in three years.
“These juniors, I started them as freshmen, never [having done] this sport before,” Seibert said. “Day one, it was Gymnastics 101. I taught them how to stand — that’s what I taught them first. And these guys now, as juniors, are doing outstanding.”
As of this time last year, the 2014 state championship was not even scheduled to take place after the MIAA had voted in January to drop boys’ gymnastics as an official sport starting in the 2013-2014 season. But following protests from across the gymnastic community, the board of directors voted in June to reinstate the sport.
Seibert said that made this year’s state title all the more special.
“Oh yeah, big time,” he said. “The kids were really excited about the sport coming back.”