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    Saturday, July 13, 2024

    East Lyme makes a ‘fresh’ start of it, takes ECC gymnastics title behind youth movement

    Capri Sferrazza of the East Lyme High School cooperative gymnastics team competes on the floor during the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship Sunday at Thames Valley Gymnastics. Sferrazza, a freshman at St. Bernard, scored a 9.0 for the floor exercise and tied for second all-around, as the Vikings won the team title with a season-high 140.25 points. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    East Lyme High School freshman Sylvi Otter competes on the floor during the ECC gymnastics championship Sunday at Thames Valley Gymnastics. Otter was eighth all-around, helping lift the Vikings to the team title. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    East Lyme co-op gymnasts, including junior captain Harley Pendleton of Waterford, center, cheer for a teammate during the ECC gymnastics championship Sunday at Thames Valley Gymnastics. East Lyme was first with 140.25 points. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Fitch High School’s Hazel Kirk competes on the beam during the ECC gymnastics championship Sunday. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Norwich Free Academy’s Trinity Ambruso competes on the beam at Sunday’s ECC meet. Ambruso won the vault and was fourth all-around at the meet with 36.1 points. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Killingly’s Ella Pereira competes on the beam during Sunday’s ECC meet. Pereira scored a 9.2 on the beam and finished tied for second all-around with a score of 36.85. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    North Franklin — The talent on the East Lyme High School cooperative gymnastics team is unmistakable: four freshmen among the top 10 individuals all-around Sunday afternoon at the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship.

    But a few reminders from Vikings’ junior captain Harley Pendleton couldn’t hurt either.

    “I try to help them a lot with their confidence and staying calm,” Pendleton said. “... I tell them just stay in the moment and have fun. They get a little bit frazzled. The big thing this year was to keep everyone happy and staying calm and focus on our goal and ‘don’t freak out, guys.’”

    The East Lyme co-op, featuring gymnasts from East Lyme, Waterford and St. Bernard, finished with a season-high 140.25 points to claim the title by less than a point over previously unbeaten Killingly (139.1). Norwich Free Academy was third (131.15) and 13-time champion Woodstock Academy fourth (130.95).

    The Vikings started out with rotations on the uneven bars and balance beam, then caught momentum on the floor exercise, carrying that into the vault, which coach Kim Detuzzi said was their best effort of the season in that event.

    And so they sat as the awards were announced, knowing they put forth their best effort but uncertain what the other team scores would be.

    Jubilation ensued as the final team scores were read.

    “The whole time we knew it was going to be neck and neck. We had no idea,” Pendleton said. “We were just praying. (Killingly was) the team to beat all year. Just pure shock and joy. Like, ‘Oh, my gosh, we actually did it.’

    “All the hard work, it paid off. Even through the ups and downs, we got through it. We stayed mentally strong.”

    East Lyme’s Capri Sferrazza won the uneven bars with a score of 9.35 and finished tied for second all-around with 36.85 points. Teammates and fellow freshmen Sylvi Otter (34.45), Taylor Filosi (34.4) and Olivia Gionet (33.95) were eighth through 10th all-around.

    Otter and Filosi attend East Lyme High School, while Sferrazza and Gionet are from St. Bernard. Pendleton is a student at Waterford.

    Plainfield’s Brenna Johnson was the all-around champion with 37.55 points, earning titles on the balance beam (9.55) and floor exercise (9.6). Killingly’s Ella Pereira tied for second all-around (36.85), NFA’s Trinity Ambruso was fourth (36.1) and Fitch’s Kiely Voland was fifth (34.9).

    East Lyme didn’t field a team at last year’s ECC meet after a squad of four dwindled by the end of the season due to illnesses and injuries. Pendleton said this season was “1,000 times better.”

    “Our girls stepped up in the vault,” Detuzzi said. “A lot of them started flipping and getting it all together. They did excellent on vault today. ... They’re at different levels as a club (in USA Gymnastics) but as a high school, they’ve all really come together as a team tremendously.

    “We expected that they would do great today, honestly. They’ve been practicing and they’ve really had a lot of team camaraderie. They’ve been boosting up their routines, working on boosting up their scores just daily.”

    Sferrazza and Gionet have trained at Detuzzi’s ABC Gymnastics in East Lyme since they were little, making it a perfect co-op with East Lyme. Detuzzi recalls that Gionet was actually too shy to walk out on to the floor when she first started.

    “There’s a lot of good competition out here,” Sferrazza said. “It was just nice. Today it was just all about we were all very hyped up. We just all had more fun.”

    NFA’s Ambruso won the uneven bars at last year’s ECC meet, won the beam and bars at the State Open level and won the New England championship on the beam. On Sunday, she won the vault with a score of 9.45.

    “It’s actually been a struggle so far this season,” said Ambruso of the vault. “So I’m pretty happy with that. I did a lot of vaulting yesterday at practice trying to perfect it and feel confident for the meet today. I think just going in with confidence and a positive mindset really made a difference.”

    v.fulkerson@theday.com

    ECC Gymnastics Championship

    Team scores

    1. East Lyme co-op 140.25, 2. Killingly 139.1, 3. NFA 131.15, 4. Woodstock Academy 130.95, 5. Stonington 130.6, 6. Fitch 126.25.

    Individual results

    Vault - 1. Trinity Ambruso (NFA), 9.45; 2. Brenna Johnson (Plainfield), 3. Ella Pereira (Killingly), 4. Capri Sferrazza (East Lyme co-op), 5. Gracyn Goodale (NFA), 6. Jessie Williams (Killingly).

    Uneven bars - 1. Sferrazza (East Lyme co-op), 9.35; 2. Ambruso (NFA), 3. Pereira (Killingly), 4. Johnson (Plainfield), 5. Taylor Filosi (East Lyme co-op), 6. Natalie Guzman (Killingly).

    Balance beam - 1. Johnson (Plainfield), 9.55; 2. Sferrazza (East Lyme co-op), 3. Pereira (Killingly), 4. Kiely Voland (Fitch), 5. Guzman (Killingly), 6. Filosi (East Lyme co-op).

    Floor exercise - 1. Johnson (Plainfield), 9.6; 2. Williams (Killingly), 3. (tie) Pereira (Killingly) and Olivia Gionet (East Lyme co-op), 5. (tie) Sferrazza (East Lyme co-op) and Voland (Fitch).

    All-around - 1. Johnson (Plainfield), 37.55; 2. (tie) Sferrazza (East Lyme co-op) and Pereira (Killingly), 4. Ambruso (NFA), 5. Voland (Fitch), 6. Williams (Killingly).

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