New Milford ends Wilton’s reign at Class M championships
Unable to save its Best for last, the New Milford gymnastics team managed to be good enough.
The Green Wave scored 134.800 points to edge two-time defending champion Wilton (133.925) and win the Class M championship Saturday afternoon at Jonathan Law High School. Fairfield Warde was third with 132.425 points.
Going into the final rotation for each team, New Milford led Wilton by 4.45 points, but the Warriors were finishing with their best event, the floor exercise, while New Milford was on vault and without its top gymnast, freshman Hailey Best.
After contributing 27.875 points through three events and closing in on the all-around title, Best left to compete in a previously scheduled club gymnastics meet, according to New Milford coach Bethany Mihaly. But with four vaulters scoring 8.0 or higher, the Green Wave added 32.625 points and fended off Wilton, which tallied 36.200 on vault and nearly overcame its deficit.
“Everybody was kind of hinting at it,” said Mihaly in reference to New Milford’s lead entering the final rotation. “But I like my girls to work their own meet and not know [the score]. I did kind of peak at the very end, but by then it was too late to change my coaching style and tell them.
“You could see by their faces how surprised they were when the final team scores were announced,” Mihaly added. “They were clueless.”
Best won two of three individual events for New Milford, finishing first on uneven bars (9.350) and beam (9.20). She added a second-place finish in the floor exercise (9.325).
New Milford also got significant contributions from Thea Spinner on beam (8.875) and floor (8.725), Lexi Donnelly on floor (8.725) and vault (8.325), and Riley Herring on beam (8.525) and bars (8.45).
“We win as a team and we lose as a team,” Mihaly said. “Nothing hinges on one kid. Our other kids stepped up and did what they needed to do.”
Darien’s Olivia Perkins had the top score on vault (9.025), and Wilton’s Lilly Byrnes won the floor exercise (9.350) despite getting a deduction for stepping out of bounds at the end of one of her tumbling passes.
Freshman Olivia Mannino led Wilton on vault (9.00) and bars (8.550), and Sarah Collias had the top team score on beam (8.300). Collias added a 9.225 in the floor exercise, placing third overall behind Byrnes and Best.
“Beam did us in,” said Wilton coach Gary Chadwick. “We got away with it on beam last year but not this time. (Collias) led us off with an 8.3 and then everybody else spit the bit.”
Competing without injured freshman standout Erin C. Johnson, Fairfield Warde received an impressive performance from Caroline Garrett, who scored 9.200 on floor, 8.925 on vault and 8.750 on beam. Tess Vincent also excelled for the Mustangs on floor (8.750), vault (8.675) and beam (8.600).
Fourth-place KPT (Killingly-Putnam-Tourtellotte) was led by Kiera O’Brien, who scored 8.350 or higher on all four events.
In addition to winning the vault, Perkins had an 8.500 on floor and an 8.250 on bars for Darien, which finished fifth in the team standings.
South Windsor’s Erin Dunn scored a 9.050 on beam and a 9.0 on floor, and teammate Audrey Manning had a 9.000 on vault.
CIAC Class M Gymnastics
at Jonathan Law High School
Team standings: 1. New Milford 134.800, 2. Wilton 133.925, 3. Fairfield Warde 132.425, 4. KPT 128.625, 5. Darien 128.475, 6. Farmington 128.200, 7. South Windsor 127.025, 8. Conard 122.550
Vault: 1. Olivia Perkins, Darien, 9.025; 2. (tie) Olivia Mannino, Wilton, 9.000, and Audrey Manning, South Windsor, 9.0
Bars: 1. Hailey Best, New Milford, 9.350; 2. Mannino 8.550; 3. Riley Herring, New Milford, 8.450
Beam: 1. Best 9.200; 2. Erin Dunn, South Windsor, 9.050; 3. Thea Spinner, New Milford, 8.875
Floor: 1. Lilly Byrnes, Wilton, 9.350; 2. Best 9.325; 3. Sarah Collias, Wilton, 9.225