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It almost seems unnatural to go through a season of the Guilford gymnastics’ squad and not include talk of hanging another banner to the rafters. After all, the Indians have captured the SCC Championship the past four years. As the team enters the dead of winter, it only gives off signs of heating up towards the drive for five in the form of a fifth consecutive conference crown.
Following a first place finish at the Pomperaug Invitational to open the season, the Indians earned wins over Stonington, Law, Branford, Hamden, Branford, and Foran to start the campaign an unblemished 6-0. Guilford would look for lucky number seven as it hosted Foran Jan. 24 at Polson Gym. Despite the Lions’ best efforts; they were no match for the Indians as they walked away with a 136.35-119.3 victorious decision.
“Everyone had very strong performances and we are all getting more confident with our routines,” said junior captain Kendall Jerzyk. “We are just now trying to perfect all the little things; we are a close team and hopefully we can keep the wins coming and grow even more as a team.”
On the vault, the Indians had strong performances from Jerzyk (leading with a 9.3), followed by sophomore Abby McGuirk (8.8), and junior Maria Iennaco (8.2). Additional scorers in this event for the Indians were juniors Julie Keenan and Ashlyn Thompson, who both earned marks of 8.2.
“Honestly, Foran is our best competitor in the SCC and they still look really good this year,” said senior captain Amanda Rubano. “On our first two events, we were shaky with a couple of slips and falls here and there. But then we got to beam and floor and killed it; easily one of our best performances of the season. There’s something to be said of a team who has the ability to figure out the issue, get it out of their heads, and recover rather than just starting great.”
As the meet took to the bars, the Indians continued their strong work. McGuirk led the way with an 8.4. Junior Stefani Taschner also earned a score of 8.3, while freshman Erin Maxwell (7.8), Jerzyk (7.7), freshman Becca Anderson (7.0), and Rubano (6.8), who Smith said, “set the tone a stuck routine”, also contributed to the Indians’ production.
“We had a rough start on vault and bars tonight with a few falls and had to regroup a bit before the second half of the meet, but then we did great on beam and floor,” said Smith. We are doing so many great things right now; we just haven't put everything together from every athlete in one meet.”
For the beam, McGuirk kept within her point range, as she nailed an 8.9 for the event. She was proceeded by Taschner (8.7), Iennaco (8.5), Anderson (also 8.5), and Rubano (8.4). On the floor, McGuirk led all Indians’ scorers with a mark of 9.1, which was followed up by Taschner (9.05), Jerzyk (9.0), Iennaco (8.3), Anderson (8.05), and junior Kendall Goodman (7.0).
“We've now seen and defeated all of the other teams in the Southern Connecticut Conference, so we are feeling confident going in to that championship meet,” said Smith on her team’s postseason outlook. “Our top three all-around performers of Jerzyk, Stefani Taschner and McGuirk can all score 35 points and above on a good day and they are leading our team score wise.”
Concluding with the all-around, Guilford was led by a pair of 35-point achievers in Taschner (35.35) and McGuirk (35.2), along with Jerzyk (32.6) to help lead the Indians to yet another regular season victory.
“We'd like to be scoring back up at the 140 mark, and we're definitely capable of doing that,” said Smith, whose club last broke that point barrier Jan. 9 versus Stonington with a 140.2. “I was really proud of how the girls battled back from a rough start tonight to finish the meet so strongly.”
Added Smith: “We are starting to look more confident in our routines in competition and now it's on to the little things that will decide close meets later in the season. We have to focus on things like connections and steps on our landings. If we're able to do that, and to continue to hit our routines in competition, I think we have a great chance of being up there with the top teams in the state.”