Lady Blazers place first on beam, but Blake amazes with speed and advanced technique
NELSON H. KOBREN GYMNASIUM, March 26 -
In their first meet of the season on Thursday, Blair gymnastics was defeated by the Blake Bengals 159.7 to 143.8, with senior Anna Hadfield tying for first on beam and third on vault. In the all-around score, Hadfield placed fourth with a 34.0 and sophomore Caitlin Hoffman placed fifth with a 26.6.
The lady Blazers began their meet on vault, with senior Korie Ferguson performing a front handspring and landing with a smile. Her presentation was followed by sophomore Kathleen Munger, Hoffman, senior Abigail Cember and Hadfield. Munger and Cember tied for fifth place with scores of 8.0 out of 10, Hoffman placed fourth and Hadfield tied with a Blake gymnast for third, receiving an 8.6.
Overall, the ladies approached the vault with power, although some team members had difficulty sticking their landings and keeping their legs straight. Coach Hillary Wynn acknowledged that the ladies need to improve to some extent, but recognized the event as one of Blair's best in the meet. "We had very solid scores in vault," she said. "I'm pleased."
Despite Blair's effort, Blake stole the top spots with their quick, powerful movements. The girls were consistent in their tight body formations and clean executions, and the best performer received a 9.2.
On the bar, the Blazers exhibited agility with tight, rapid turns and smooth transitions from bar to bar. Cember executed a stunning back flip off the bar in her dismount, placing sixth for the event with a 6.6. Smith, in fifth place with a 6.8, also landed with a flourish after a series of rapid flips. Earning an 8.1 in fourth place, Hadfield reached great heights as she smoothly spun around the bar. But Wynn noticed that some Blazers flexed their feet, separated their legs while they turned and faltered on their landings. She identified clean and tight execution as one key improvement. "We still need to fine-tune," Wynn said. "Pointed toes, straight legs, more stick [in landings] and clean dismounts are all things we need to work on."
Blake gymnasts stunned the judge with their dexterity and complex jumps, taking the top three spots on bar with scores of 8.5, 9.0 and 9.5.
While performing more graceful routines on the balance beam, the Lady Blazers executed polished technique while remaining extremely cautious. Hoffman inventively mounted the beam upside down, while Smith and Hadfield's performances were also noteworthy. Smith received an 8.1 after doing cartwheels, splits, leaps and other jumps on the beam with confidence.
Hadfield maintained balance while performing a back handspring and back walkover, and achieved impressive height on two consecutive pike jumps. While both Blake and Blair occasionally fell off the beam during their routines, Blake generally exhibited stability, confidence and advanced technique as they stuck firm, stable landings and maneuvered the bar with ease. But with Hadfield and Smith capturing first and fifth places respectively, Wynn identified the event as another of the meet's strong points. "Vault and beam – those were two events we shined in," she said.
In their last event, the Lady Blazers took it to the floor with sequences of fast tumbling and graceful flourishes of movement. Smith, placing fifth with a 7.9, awed spectators with her clean flips, effortless aerial and smooth execution, although she insisted that the performance was not her best. "I can definitely improve," she said.
Hadfield also performed well, and captured fourth place with an 8.5. She traveled lightly across the floor, displaying flexibility with split jumps and firmly sticking her landings. But Blake stole first, second and third in the event by cleanly executing advanced technique. "They have always been a good team," Wynn confessed. Ferguson recalled that the team has advanced to state competitions in the past.
Despite the tough competition that Blake's team presented, the Lady Blazers were genuinely satisfied with their performance, especially against such a talented group of gymnasts. "We knew we weren't going to win," Hadfield admitted.
Ferguson agreed. "For the first meet of the season and the first time coming together as a team, I think we did really well."
Although there are still improvements - such as the inclusion of harder skills - to be made before the next meet, Wynn was content with Blair's performance. "My expectations were that we would have four solid all-arounders with everyone hitting the routine as we practiced in warm-ups, and we did that," she said. "I think we looked sharp today."
Blair's next home gymnastics meet is against Walter Johnson on Thursday, April 2 at 6 p.m.
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