Stafford Leader

Strong Southern Gymnasts Will Contend for Division Title

Sep 14, 2018
Photo by: Jack Reynolds WINNING FORM: Southern senior Gabriella Conforti leads the gymnastics team this fall.

Last season, the Southern Regional gymnastics team scored 100 or more points in all their competitions. This fall, there’s a strong possibility the Rams will repeat that feat.

“We have tremendous depth this season and many gymnasts looking to compete in the postseason,” said head coach Judy Miller, whose squad last year turned in an 11-2 record. “Our depth in all events will allow us to rotate our lineup and compensate for typical mid-season fatigue or injuries. We have a young but extremely capable team and plan to make every event in every meet count to achieve our strongest record in recent years.”

That’s saying a lot, considering the Rams were a powerful force in the Shore Conference Class A South division last season. Their only two losses were to conference powerhouses Jackson Memorial and Brick Memorial. But this time around, Southern should have enough in the lineup to challenge for the top spot in the division.

Unfortunately, the Rams will be starting the season without sophomore sensation Maria Mezzo, who as a freshman last year finished fourth in the all-around at the NJSIAA South Jersey sectional meet after taking fourth on the vault, 12th on the balance beam and third on the floor exercise, before finishing her season competing in the vault at the state finals. Once Mezzo is back in action, she simply will make Southern a much stronger club.

Beyond Mezzo, the Rams are still loaded with experienced and talented young gymnasts. Of course, leading the charge when Southern starts its season on Friday, Sept. 14 against Toms River South will be senior Gabriella Conforti, a mainstay in the starting rotation for years. Last fall she placed 10th all-around in the sectional meet. Conforti not only is a consistent, reliable competitor but a fantastic leader, and the Rams are in great shape as the season gets underway despite Mezzo on the sideline.

In addition to Conforti, Southern has a solid crew of all-around competitors in junior Gianna Antinorra and sophomores Alexandria English and Hailey Klimas. Sophomore Abigail Scheider is a floor and beam specialist who can score big points when inserted into the rotation.

If that lineup of returning gymnasts doesn’t overwhelm opponents, maybe the fact Southern has three incoming freshmen who can compete in the all-around rotation at any time will do the trick. At the forefront of that class is Ava Kelly, an extremely talented gymnast who immediately solidifies any holes the Rams may have had – and there weren’t many. Alongside Kelly will be classmates Mikayla Rua and Emma Wasacz, two more talented young ladies who likely will keep the Rams a highly competitive team for years to come.

The rest of the team includes senior Devin Scully; sophomores Gwen Moran, Callie Borman, Daniella Minneo and Catalina Pisciotta; and freshman Gianna Manganiello.

Following the opener against Toms River South, Southern will host powerful non-conference opponent Ocean City on Monday, Sept. 17, at 4 p.m.; and a divisional clash against Central Regional set for Friday, Sept. 21.

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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