Wilton YMCA gymnasts earn national honors

WILTON — Members of the Wilton’s Riverbrook Regional YMCA girls gymnastics team recently returned to national competition after a two-year hiatus and came home with some hardware to show off their achievements.

The 18-member team had 12 gymnasts medal and five receive top placement, or “All-Around,” for the highest total scores in their age groups at nationals in Toledo, Ohio. The team has athletes from fourth through 11th grade who compete at five different skill levels.

“The return of YMCA Nationals was long-awaited by our athletes and coaches,” head coach Victoria Shea said. “We had one of the largest national teams in our program's history and these gymnasts dedicated hours of personal time and hard work throughout this season to achieve this top level of competition.”

She added it was thrilling to see the team camaraderie come alive on the national stage.

Gymnast Teagan Kosche took gold on beam for Level 3, while fellow Level 3 competitor Hannah Garberding earned bronze.

Kosche said that she and the team initially felt nerves coming into the event, but Shea and her other coaches were able to refocus them and be in the moment.

Addison Grippando earned Level 3 All-Around honors for medaling in four events.

“It was amazing to be with my teammates,” Grippando said. “We cheered each other on and had a great time. It was just so fun to be out there against other teams from across the country.”

In Level 4, Brenna Holden took bronze on bars and Brooke Vallerie placed eighth in the same event.

Tess D’Andraia placed third on beam, while teammate Allison Massaua placed sixth on floor in Level 6.

Brianna Shiue placed fifth highest at Level 6 with medals in all four events including a top three placement on beam. Mia Decore finished with silver, also receiving medals in all four events and finishing top three in three events.

“At home, our coaches always remind us to stay focused and work hard so that our routines become natural to us,” Shiue said. “When we were in Toledo, they never once told us to work harder. They said have fun but be smart, don't worry, and enjoy the experience because all of our hard work made it so that we were ready to compete.”

Lilli Todd, who also competed at Level 6, said she was inspired by hearing two-time U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Laurie Hernandez speak at the national competition.

Wilton YMCA had just one gymnast competing in the most skilled level at the competition: 11th-grader Alyssa Smeriglio.

“It was so much fun competing at nationals again, but being able to qualify for the finals made it even better,” said Smeriglio, who competed at Level 8. “I loved the energy in the gym during finals and loved having my teammates there to cheer me on. I was able to complete some new skills and achieve my highest all-around scores this season.”

Smeriglio has been a constant contributor with multiple high competition placements throughout her career with the program.

“On behalf of the coaching staff, we are very proud of how well these girls represented our gymnastics team,” Shea said, “both on and off the floor.”