With nine freshmen, five sophomores and four juniors on its roster, building for the future has been one of the primary goals for the Greenwich High School gymnastics team, which does not have a senior on its squad this winter.
“We are a young team this year, I have no seniors, but I have a big roster, with 18 girls and a lot of freshmen,” Cardinals coach Sue Knight said. “It is totally different having such a big roster with no seniors, so it’s a building year for our program. We do not have anyone graduating this year, so it bodes well for the future of our team.”
Greenwich was one of the premier squads in the state during a stretch in which it captured the FCIAC team championship and Class L title four consecutive seasons (2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19).
“Our team had a nice, exciting four-year run,” said Knight, who is in her 30th season as coach of the Cardinals. “Now we have a young team that is gaining experience.”
Like all gymnastics teams in the region, Greenwich’s meets have taken place in a virtual format, due to COVID-19 pandemic. The Cardinals have competed in each meet at their home training facility, the Greenwich YWCA, while their opponents have tested their skills at their respective home site. The scores from each virtual meet have then been added up to determine the individual winners for each event and team winner.
Since the Cardinals have a roster that has a lot of underclassmen, not competing against their opponents in-person each meet, has enabled the new-look team to ease its way into the season.
“It’s different, because we are the only ones here each meet,” Knight said. “It is more relaxing each meet, maybe too relaxing for them, since they are not directly dealing with the other team. Overall, the season has obviously, had a different feel to it.”
Greenwich has competed in virtual meets against Wilton, Darien, Norwalk, Staples, Fairfield Warde, Stamford, Westhill, New Canaan and Fairfield Ludlowe so far this season. The Cards have registered victories against Norwalk, Stamford and Westhill and have another virtual meet Thursday against St. Joseph and Trumbull.
High school gymnasts in the state have worn masks throughout the season, while following several other COVID-19 safety protocols.
“It’s been different, but everyone has adapted really well to everything that’s been going on,” said Greenwich junior captain Cameron O’Carroll. “The team has done really great, under the circumstances. Everyone has given it their all. We have great gymnasts who are improving.”
In victories against Westhill and Stamford, freshman Claire Yee placed second on the uneven bars with a score of 8.5, was first in the floor exercise (8.3). She also had a second-place finish on the balance beam (7.8) and her all-around score was second (32.6), behind Stamford’s Lauren Heller (34.15).
“Overall, my freshman season on the team has been super fun,” Yee said. “Bars and floor have been my best events so far. The meets have definitely had a different feel to them, because they are virtual, but I am pretty good at motivating myself and pumping myself up.”
Juniors Melanie Weiner and Mei Luangkhot also captain the team, along with O’Carroll.
“With all the changes, the season has been different than in past years, but our team has still bonded,” Weiner said. “We do have a lot of our team coming back next season, so with more time to practice next year will be better for our team.”
Weiner is in her eighth year as a gymnast.
“I like how gymnastics has an individual aspect to it, but also requires teamwork,” Weiner said. “We have good team spirit and we are excited for next year.”
Luangkhot has been sidelined with an injury this season, but is looking forward returning to action next season for the Cardinals.
“Being on the team is a lot of fun, it’s a good way to meet a lot of people and it’s been a good experience,” Luangkhot said. “Gymnastics has always been exciting to me, because unlike a lot of sports it has a lot of different events.”
In previous years, Luangkhot has helped pace Greenwich on the beam and floor and this winter, sophomore Brooke Wallace has been consistent in the events she’s competed in.
Against Westhill and Stamford, Wallace placed third in both the vault (8.05) and beam (7.7) and had the third-best all-around score (30.15). She also was fourth in the floor exercise (7.8).
“It’s been a little chaotic because of COVID, but our team always has so much fun,” Wallace said. “There are so many people on the team and some of us are different ages. It’s so much fun to be able to compete and be able to cheer everyone on.”
Like her teammates, Wallace is looking forward to having a traditional season, with the opposition present.
“It’s always fun to see everyone and I am a competitive person, so it’s nice to feel that competitive atmosphere, with having the other teams there,” Wallace said. “This year, without seeing the other teams we are focusing on ourselves and cheering each other on.”
Emma Kelly, a sophomore, took third on the bars (7.2) and floor (8.1) in a recent meet against Westhill and Stamford.
“I like the beam and bars the best and I also really enjoy competing in floor too,” Kelly said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what the team can accomplish the rest of the season and in the future.”
Cardinals freshman Skylar Seides placed third on the beam versus Westhill and Stamford (7.5) and has also helped spark the squad in several events. The Cardinals’ roster includes freshmen Emma Bookless, Olivia Rosenbaum, Maryssa Aceituno, Gabriella Collazo, Evelyn Sherman and Isabella DeVito and sophomore Helena Holdsworth.
Greenwich’s final regular-season virtual meet is March 18 against St. Joseph and Trumbull.
“I’m proud of our team for what they have had to go through and how they have handled all the changes,” Knight said.
Said Wallace: “Every year it’s really fun, we have a lot of new people coming in and nice to see what new talent we have coming in every year.”