Talent, Depth Key Factors in Southern Gymnastics Team’s Perfect Start

Sep 26, 2018
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

The Southern Regional gymnastics team hasn’t been at full strength so far this season, but that hasn’t stopped the Rams from a perfect start.

“It feels really good to know that if somebody is injured, we have a lot of depth and girls who can do well to carry the team,” said sophomore Maria Mezzo, who during Monday’s 99.425-94.45 victory over Manchester finally competed in a few events, as she gets back into the swing of things. “We have a lot of girls who are sitting on the side but can step in and score well.”

On a team with one senior, depth is a huge X-factor. And coach Judy Miller’s squad showed it again against the Hawks, improving to 4-0 in the process.

“We’re working very well together,” said sophomore Hailey Klimas, who helped lead Southern with an all-around score of 32.55, a 10th of a point behind freshman Ava Kelly (32.65). “This is an individual sport but also a team sport, and we’re very good at being a team – always motivating and helping each other. For me, personally, I know it helps me to know I have teammates around me who are supportive and can pick me up when I’m not at my best.”

Interestingly, the Rams weren’t at their best on Monday – the last time Southern scored under 100 points was late in the 2016 season – but it didn’t matter. The depth and the skill levels of the eight girls rotating through the four events provided Southern with enough to get past the Hawks.

Kelly delivered an 8.8 on the vault to lead the way in the opening event, followed by Klimas’ 8.275, freshman Emma Wasacz’s 8.225, sophomore Abigail Scheider’s 8.1 and freshman Mikayla Rua’s 8.0. On the uneven bars, Mezzo completed a solid routine with a fantastic dismount and landing for an 8.15, while senior Gabby Conforti contributed a 7.925, Klimas recorded a 7.75, sophomore Ali English added a 7.6 and Kelly scored a 7.45 to put the Rams up by a point and a half after two events.

As it typically does, Southern extended the lead to more than four points on the balance beam with a team score of 24.75, as Mezzo came through with an 8.8, followed by an 8.4 from Kelly, a 7.5 from Klimas, a 7.55 from Wasacz and a 7.525 from Conforti.

For the floor exercise, Scheider delivered a fun, energetic routine for an 8.0, before English performed a mostly clean routine with several excellent tumbling passes to score an 8.525, and Mezzo tested her recovering ankle with another fantastic routine with great choreographed elements and tallied an 8.0. Kelly’s thrilling dance elements at the start of her routine and a series of solid passes scored her an 8.0, and Klimas finished with a beautifully choreographed, smooth and fun routine good enough for a 9.025.

“We didn’t score 100 today, but that’s OK,” said Conforti, a four-year gymnast who now is the leader of the crew. “We have a lot of young gymnasts and we’re having fun, but we’re working hard. We have a lot of talent and that’s a good thing, because it means we can keep getting better as a program.”

Mezzo said the Rams, who defeated Central, 102.425-86.55, on Sept. 21, have more potential than they probably realize at the moment.

“We can go so much higher,” she said. “Right now, we’re not even doing the routines we’re fully capable of or using the degrees of difficulty needed to score higher. We definitely have a lot of potential on this team.”

— David Biggy


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