Girls Gymnastics tumbles their way to postseason success

Caroline Williams, Staff Writer

The Port Washington Gymnastics team is going to continue to work hard in order to maintain their momentum from last year.  This is a challenging feat since last season the girls went 6-4 and were ranked 4th in all of Long Island by Newsday, a huge accomplishment for the squad.  This year the girls plan on continuing these successes and are determined to meet their goals.

This year, the girls opened their season with a win against Great Neck North, 167.8 to 134.52.  The team had stand out performances from freshman Hannah Ross (8.6) and sophomore Stefanie Carta (8.7) on the vault and bars, freshman Keira Darnell (8.75) and Carta (9.2) on the beam, and junior Lola Lichtenstein (8.75) and Carta (9.1) on the floor.  The team then continued this momentum in a nail-biting victory against South Side, 163.6 to 160.4.  Carta led the way with standout victory 35.7, 8.8 on vault, 8.55 on bars, 9.0 on beam, and 9.35 on floor. 

Unfortunately, the girls were later defeated by Syosset, 167-159, yet still managed some good performances from Carta and Lichtenstein on vault and floor, sophomore Sarah Braunschweiger on bars, and Darnell and sophomore Kayla Quaran on beam.  Two days later, however, the girls produced an exceptional victory against rival Massapequa, 162.55 to 161.55.  High scores came from Carta, Lichetenstein, and Darnell on vault, Carta, Braunschweiger and Darnell on bars, Carta and Quan on beam and Carta, and Lichentenstein and sophomore Amanda Kaminsky on floor.  

The girls did not lose this first-place mentality and continued winning in matches against Hicksville, 165.15 to 158.7, and Bethpage, 163.15 to 160.55.  Two star athletes of the Bethpage match were Kaminsky, who scored an impressive 9.0 on floor, and Carta, who scored a personal best of 9.0 on vault.

Most recently, the girls picked up a big win against opponent Oceanside, 163.2 to 160.6, but unfortunately lost to Plainview JFK, 167.75 to 163.  Furthermore, they also participated in the annual Cartwheel for the Cure Tournament on Jan. 20, in which Port finished third, with a score of 158.,1 placing under champion Syosset and runner-up Plainview JFK. 

With these successes, it is no surprise the girls gymnastics team wants to end their season with a bang.  

“My team’s goal for this season is, as it comes to an end, to see us do well in the county championship meet.  The county meet is only for the top eight teams in Nassau county and currently we are in third place.  I really hope and believe we will do well at that meet,” said Lichtenstein.

The only way to accomplish these goals is, not surprisingly, with a lot of hard work at practices.  Gymnastics, however, is an individual sport which makes practicing as a team much harder. 

“It’s very difficult to run a practice for 20 girls that all do completely different things.  After we are done setting up, Lola and I will lead some sort of warm up, which isn’t specific to a specific event.  It isn’t until after warm up that we split up and work on our individual skills,” said junior Natalie Livingston.  “Our floor girls work tirelessly tumbling up and down the floor, running full out routines with music at least once a practice.  When it comes to beam it’s all about repetition and practicing skills over and over again.”

Regardless of the final standings, it is clear that the girls gymnastics team has a strong bond and is prepared to do well in their county meet. 

“My favorite thing about gymnastics is the bond we have as a team.  We have become so close this year it’s really a family. Before the season even started we were already having team dinners,” said junior Phoebe Christake. 

It is this team mentality combined with their vigorous practice regimen that will work its way to pushing the girls to the top of their conference.