Wilton gymnasts defend Class M state title
By nature, Gary Chadwick worries at gymnastics meets.
By the time his Wilton team got down to its final floor exercise routine in Saturday's Class M championship, Chadwick believed a second consecutive state title was a distinct impossibility.
"I thought we were done," Chadwick, Wilton's head coach, said. "I knew we were down by a little to Killingly going to floor, and when the final Killingly girl (Maggie McKeon) got a 9.225 on floor and then our second-to-last girl got a 9.0, I thought we were done for the day. I turned to Joan (Ketley, Wilton's assistant coach) and said we needed a big score from Jess (Olin)."
Unbeknownst to Chadwick and his gymnasts, Wilton had already pulled ahead of the Killingly-Putnam-Tourtelotte (KPT) combined team before Olin stepped on the mat. She came through with a big score anyway.
Olin danced, leaped, twisted, turned, and tumbled her way to a 9.70, tying Chelsea Levander's school record and ending the meet with the highest individual score of the day.
"I did not know where we were standing, and I was a little bit nervous," Olin said. "But floor is definitely my favorite event, so I just had to do what I know how to do. That is a personal-best for me, which I definitely was not expecting to happen."
Wilton finished with a 131.975 team score, beating runner-up KPT (130.200) by 1.775 points. New Milford was third with 126.100 points, followed by Conard (124.875) and Wethersfield (124.575) rounding out the top five in the eight-team field at Jonathan Law High School in Milford.
The Warriors defended their title — and won the ninth state class championship in program history — despite some uncharacteristic stumbles.
"It wasn't our best performance, but I'm glad we did enough to win," said Chadwick, whose team was seeded first based on its 134.550 regular-season average. "We weren't very good on (uneven) bars, which we have struggled with all year, and we had some problems on beam."
KPT had the meet's top team scores on vault (34.775) and bars (30.950) to build a 65.725-64.675 lead over Wilton through two events. The Warriors did edge KPT on beam, 32.150 to 31.650, narrowing their deficit to 0.55 going into the floor exercise.
Led by McKeon's 9.225, KPT scored 32.825 points on floor. But Sarah Collias (8.05), Kate Ginsburg (8.40) and Lily Byrnes (9.0) helped Wilton take the lead, and Olin followed with her showstopper to widen the final margin.
"They're a strong team," KPT coach Kasey Fillmore said about Wilton. "Neither of our teams, I feel, had our best day, so that left a little opening for us. But Wilton is really good on floor, and they showed that today."
Notes: Darien and Farmington tied for sixth place with matching 124.000 scores, and Pomperaug was eighth with a 115.250.
Darien did have the highest team score on beam with a 32.375. The Blue Wave's Nicole Carlo had an 8.675 to tie KPT's Kiera O'Brien for first in the event, while teammate Lana Schmidt was third.
New Milford's Thea Spinner had the best score on uneven bars (8.550), while Olin was tops on vault (9.400) and floor (9.700).
Because the class meets are team competitions, individual honors were not awarded.
Class M gymnastics (at Jonathan Law)
1. Wilton - 131.975; 2. Killingly/Putnam/Tourtelotte - 130.200; 3. New Milford -126.100; 4. Conard - 124.875; 5. Wethersfield - 124.575; 6. (tie) Farmington - 124.000, Darien 124.000; 8. Pomperaug - 115.250.
Vault: 1. Jessica Olin (Wilton), 9.400; 2. Maggie McKeon (KPT), 9.325; 3. Lana Schmidt (Darien), 9.000.
Bars: 1. Thea Spinner (New Milford), 8.550; 2. Kiera O'Brien (KPT), 8.525; Madison Bradbury (Wethersfield), 8.450
Beam: 1. (tie) Nicole Carlo (Darien) and O'Brien (KPT), 8.675; 2. Isabela Glynn (Conard), 8.475; 3. Schmidt (Darien), 8.450
Floor: 1. Olin (Wilton), 9.7; 2. McKeon (KPT), 9.225; 3. Lily Byrnes (Wilton, 9.000)