Oct 28, 2012
Colonials win third straight SCT title
JACKSON — The best in Monmouth and Ocean County high school gymnastics descended upon the lavish confines of Jackson Liberty on Saturday afternoon with a single overarching notion hovering high above the beam, bars, and mattings — could another challenger rise to the occasion and unseat top ranked Freehold?
In short, the Colonials answered the inquisition with a resounding no, posting a total team score of 110.900 to capture its third consecutive Shore Conference Tournament championship in as many seasons, a feat never before completed since the meet’s inception.
“We actually didn’t find out until this morning, on the way here, that we had the chance to do something that’s never been done,” explained Freehold’s Jen King. “But we knew we could do it, and we used the added pressure as fuel for our fire.”
“We realized that no one had ever done it,” said Colonials Head Coach Katie Puzs, “So we made that our goal. We didn’t set a scoring goal for today, we just wanted to come, get the job done, and win.”
“This is a crazy feeling,” continued King on her team’s three-peat. “We were fortunate enough a few years ago to start off with such a young and talented team, and now we’re a little bit older, a little bit more experienced, and confident and we did today what we always knew we were capable of.”
Red Bank Catholic, as the second-seeded squadron, earned the designation of Freehold’s primary opposition, and this marquee duel was placed on full display with the two programs set side-by-side in Group A, growing the rivalry with each cycle.
However, a turning point in this heavyweight sparring session occurred in the third rotation when the Colonials exhibited its immense depth on the balance beam, pulling away from the Caseys for good, as King, Jenna Crisalli, and Shani Weiss recorded marks of 9.575, 9.45, and 9.0, respectively, widening the gap to 83.025-79.550, a lead that proved to be insurmountable.
“Jen [King] and Jenna [Crisalli] had two beautiful routines on the beam,” said Pusz. “It gave them, and the team, a lot of momentum going into the floor exercise where, again, they had beautiful performances.”
In that fourth rotation King earned a mark of 9.450, a score outdone only by Crisalli, who captured the first place medal in the event with a staggering 9.625.
Rounding out the top three on the balance beam was Holmdel’s Kendall Valentin, whose 9.550 added to her meet high individual score of 38.175, earning the Hornet’s leader the All-Around crown. Valentin would finish fourth in the vault (9.575), tied for second with King in the floor exercise (9.450), and first in the uneven bars event at 9.600.
King and Crisalli would finish second and third in the All-Around with scores of 37.650 and 37.525, respectively, while Howell’s Bayleigh Fobes earned the individual vault title with a score of 9.650, and Courtney DiDea captured the top spot in the beam at 9.650.
Chris Rotolo: crotolo@ njpressmedia.com