The Day's All-Area Gymnast of the Year: Stonington's Lydia Laskey
She was a typical freshman at first, the only one on the Stonington High School gymnastics roster this season. Lydia Laskey worked hard, determined to improve, but did so quietly. Then the regular season began.
"She blew your mind a little bit," Stonington coach Leslie Gomes said. "She competed really well. When she first started, you just didn't get the sense of how good she was until we started to compete. She was very quiet. She started opening up toward the end. She was quite quiet."
Laskey was named The Day's 2020 All-Area Gymnast of the Year.
She won the all-around competition the day Stonington upended Woodstock Academy, Woodstock's first loss since 2010, encompassing 91 straight meets.
The Bears topped Woodstock 136.75-131.15 on Jan. 8, leading to an eventual share of the Eastern Connecticut Conference regular-season championship. Laskey, whose older sister Hanna is also a standout for the Bears, finished first in the win over the Centaurs with a score of 34.6.
Stonington set the program's single-meet scoring record with 138.5 points at the ECC championship, falling to Woodstock by an agonizing .9 points, a meet in which Hanna Laskey was second all-around (35.25) and Lydia was fifth (34.7). Lydia's top event was the balance beam, in which she finished third with an 8.85.
The Bears then finished third in the Class S state championship behind 10-time champion Woodstock, but qualified for the State Open meet for the first time as a team.
At the Open, Lydia, who finished the season by earning all-state honors, qualified for the New England meet on the beam with an 8.60, tying her for 11th. The New England meet was later canceled, denying her the opportunity to advance.
Gomes believes it was the addition of the resolute freshman, Laskey, that helped Stonington (15-2 overall, 9-1 in the league) to its first ECC title of the decade.
"The whole meet was ... I don't think we realized how well we were doing," Gomes said of the early win over Woodstock. "We kind of had no idea. I don't know if (Laskey) knew the history with Woodstock and how many years (it had been), state tournaments and everything. But we did. We've been around."
"I was kind of nervous. I was the only freshman joining the team," Laskey said. "I did have some experience prior because I compete for ABC Gymnastics in Niantic. It took some getting used to. ... I got used to it but it was a lot of pressure because after we beat Woodstock, we had ECCs next and everyone was rooting for us to win. Overall, I had a lot of fun. We didn't win (the ECC meet), but overall, we broke the (school scoring) record."
Led by Laskey, the Bears excelled on the balance beam at the ECC meet, scoring 35.2 points, the most of any team.
"Everyone stuck their routine and made it. It was very exciting," Laskey said of the beam rotation at ECCs. "Beam is my favorite event. I've always been more comfortable on the beam than any other event. As the years went on, I've grown to love it."
Laskey began taking Mommy and Me classes at the Westerly YMCA when she was about 4, she said, her introduction to gymnastics. She is now at USA Gymnastics Level 8, competing at the club level, where she credits her coaches for helping her fall in love with the sport. She hopes to continue the sport in college.
She also is grateful to her coaches and fellow athletes at Stonington, who made plenty of time to make a freshman feel welcome.
"Obviously my team. They put in lots of work and effort," Laskey said, asked if there was anyone else she's like to mention. "(Senior) Abby Remmert ... they're very fun. They were very nice to me. And our coaches, Leslie and Jerry (Desmond, assistant coach).
"Hopefully, next year, we can take the ECC title and go back to the State Opens as a team again."
The Day's 2020 All-Area Gymnastics Team
Player of the Year — Lydia Laskey (Stonington)
Kaitlyn Abbey (East Lyme co-op)
Maria Denya (Old Lyme)
Hanna Laskey (Stonington)
Lila Rich (Stonington)
Katya Torruella (Stonington)
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