Gymnastics preview: Wilton gets a boost from big freshman class
In a typical year, graduating three top performers and then losing several current gymnasts to injury would be hard to overcome.
But thanks to its biggest freshman class ever, this isn’t a typical year for the Wilton High gymnastics team.
The addition of seven ninth graders to an already strong core of returning gymnasts has given the Warriors much-needed depth to ride out the injuries.
“Even with all the limitations, we have enough quality people where we’ll be able to cover all the events,” said head coach Gary Chadwick. “The saving grace is the quality of the freshmen we have. I think we’ll be a little bit better primarily because of the freshmen. They bring a lot to the table.”
Wilton’s first match is today at home against Fairfield, the first of four home meets to open the season.
The Warriors are coming off a 6-4 season that saw them finish third in the FCIAC and sixth at the Class M state championships.
The team graduated its top performers on beam (Sam Farhi) and bars (Riley Wadehra), and one of its best scorers on beam and floor (Morgan Leddy).
Another big loss is sophomore Sam Huffman, who is out for the season with a broken foot. Huffman was coming off a solid freshman season and was expected to be a key performer on beam, floor and bars.
The Warriors are also without Rebecca Poirier, one of their four senior captains, who is still working her way back from a torn ACL injury suffered at last season’s state championship meet. Chadwick said the hope is that Poirier will be able to compete on vault, her best event, later in the season. She was second-team all-FCIAC on vault last season.
Another of the senior captains, Alex Uriarte, is fighting knee pain and will be limited to only two events, beam and bars. The team’s only all-around performer a year ago, she was second-team all-FCIAC and second-team all-state on bars, and second-team all-FCIAC on beam. She will be missed on floor and vault, however, as she earned second-team all-FCIAC honors last season in both events.
Those setbacks aside, the Warriors have a strong cast of returners, led by the other two senior captains, Nicki Babkowski and Meredith Nash. Both were second-team all-state on the floor last season, and both scored 9.0 floor routines during the season.
Both were high scorers on vault, as well, while Nash was a top scorer on the beam.
Despite the loss of Huffman, Wilton still has a strong sophomore class back with Brooke Taffler, Alyssa Jarrett and Taylor White.
Jarrett, who was second-team all-FCIAC on beam and bars, will compete in both events again this season. Taffler will be back on bars and vault, while White will perform on floor and vault.
The freshmen expected to fill out the lineup are Lauren Cooper (bars and beam), Kate Ginsburg (floor, bars and beam), Kayla Heber (floor and vault), Megan McNamara (floor and bars), Carter Siegel (vault and beam), Marra Woodring (beam) and Nicole Beecher (vault, bars and floor).
Beecher, however, is out with a bad back, and Chadwick hopes she can help out on vault later in the season. Woodring is battling knee problems, he added.
Chadwick said it will be an unusual season, at least in the first meet, in that floor will be the team’s weakest event, with Uriarte not performing and Babkowski not expected to compete, and bars will be the strongest.
Wilton will also be a little thin on vault, with Uriarte not competing this season and Poirier sidelined by injury.
But thanks to the ninth graders, the Warriors will still be able to go six deep on every event, even with the injuries.
“We’re OK for six, but if anyone gets sick or hurt beyond that we’re not going to have much in the way of filling in,” said Chadwick, who expects the Warriors to be among the upper echelon of the FCIAC once again.
“I think it should be a good year,” he said.
— J.B. Cozens