By Mal Boright
Another late February Saturday, another ever-so-narrow nudging by the state champions in the crowning event.
The always hopeful—for good reason—Champlain Valley Union High gymnastics team came close, but for the second time in two years, bowed by less than a point to Essex High Saturday as the Hornets captured their eighth straight title at their gymnasium.
The final tally was 139.1 for Essex to the Redhawks’ 138.25. Last year it was even closer, the Hornets prevailing by a wisp, 139.35 to 139.15.
However, there were no drooping heads among coach Bob Abbott’s Red and White gymnasts following the final announcements.
CVU veteran senior Maddie Bourdeau, who has been part of four trips to the championship round, said the Redhawks had an overall better day than a year ago.
“The beam and bars were just great, the floor exercise not quite so good,” she said, an opinion shared by teammates.
Floor exercise, the final event for each team, was the decider with Essex, which held a slight 104.2 to 103.575 edge going in, maintaining the edge with all-around winner Courtney Gleason second and Karyn Svarczkopf first.
CVU junior Megan Nick was third, Bourdeau fourth and senior Sarah Kinsley sixth.
Nick, also first on the bars, second on the beam and fourth on the vault, was the meet’s all-around runner-up. Kinsley was sixth all around.
CVU trailed early when Essex nailed the vault, the initial event, behind Gleason’s spectacular 9.55.
CVU then made a comeback on the parallel bars with Nick winning, Kinsley taking sixth and Grace Carey seventh. The Hornets were pretty good, though, Svarczkopf second and Gleason third after CVU created a pressure situation for them.
“The bars and beam are the keys for us,” said Abbott after the bars competition. “We hit the bars, now the beam.”
And hit the four-inch wide balance beam they did. Mount Mansfield Union’s Avery Lind won the event, but Nick took second and Kinsley third with Gleason’s fifth the high Hornet competitor. For CVU there were hugs all around.
Last year’s hopes for the Redhawks had somewhat crashed on the beam and memories were long.
That pulled the Redhawks to within a point of the defending champs with floor exercise remaining.
“Essex is always strong in floor exercise,” said Abbott, as his team got ready for the closing event, with Essex to follow.
“It was good, but not our best,” the coach opined after the Redhawks finished. Essex then came through with a strong performance to clinch the crown.