GHS gymnastic seniors (l-r) Addison Fastiggi, Amanda Steckler, Sophia Urban, and Sarah McKinney were honored as the Guardians defeated Conard on Senior Night on Feb. 12.
Glastonbury High School gymnastics honored four seniors last Saturday, Feb. 12, as the Guardians celebrated Senior Night with a win over Conard.
Seniors Sarah McKinney, Amanda Steckler, Addison Fastiggi, and Sophia Urban were recognized prior to Glastonbury defeating the West Hartford-based Chieftains at Gymnastics Express Too last Saturday.
Head coach Yvette Sima has a lineup blended with vibrant youth and accomplished veterans. The senior quartet have been productive during competition this winter and helped usher in the next generation of Guardians gymnasts, paving the way for what should be continued success for the program over the coming years.
“Not only are they in lineups and we heavily rely on their scores on a regular basis, but their positive attitudes and excitement for the sport has been great,” Sima said of her seniors.
McKinney and Steckler are captaining a team that has won five of seven meets this winter.
Sima said her captains have embraced the role in more ways than one, adding, “They are great role models and leaders in the gym and out of the gym. They constantly have positive things to say to the other girls. They are going to be missed next year.”
Following the restrictive season last winter, which forced meets to be virtual and eliminated postseason competition, the seniors wanted to make their final high school season as memorable as possible.
“The four of us actually go to the same club gym, so the four of us grew up together,” McKinney said of the senior class. “We’re close and bring that to the team. We keep each other positive and if somebody is down, we pick them up.”
Steckler added that the seniors have welcomed in the new crop of gymnasts, “It’s been nice because a lot of the new girls we’ve known since we were younger and now being their teammates we get to help them out when they need it or work beside them, which is really nice. With the new girls coming in we get to learn along with them and we get to learn more about them and how they are as gymnasts.”
In the win over Conard, Glastonbury won 129.2 - 120.5 and had the three best all-around performances. Freshman Francesca Gionfriddo had a meet-high 32.6 in the all-around, posting the top floor routine (8.8) and best vault (8.6). Fellow freshman Julia Pistorius posted an overall 32.1 and sophomore Macey Burns registered a total of 30.9. Junior Sydney Barcikowski posed the top score on the beam (8.5).
Sima has been pleasantly surprised with the newer gymnasts, who have consistently been atop the leaderboard in most meets.
“Our freshman group and a couple of new sophomores and juniors are very strong. They have a lot of skills and have a lot to offer to the team. Mentally they are strong,” said Sima.
Sima added that the well-balanced group is something that the program hasn’t had in a while, saying, “It’s nice because they may be new to our team but they are equals. [The underclassmen] have all earned their spots in the lineup and the upperclassmen have been supportive about it.”
Across the board, the individual scores have been steady and the team scores have been robust.
McKinney and Steckler, who both do club gymnastics outside of GHS, agreed there is nothing better than the team aspect of high school gymnastics.
“When we come into the gym for practice or a meet it’s not about one individual doing their routine, it’s about building each other up,” said McKinney. “At our club gym it’s about individuals, but in high school it is very different. I think it’s cool because we are a really good team when we put everything together. Even if you have a bad meet there are other people that can bring up the team score.”
Steckler started gymnastics in the sixth grade, which is a little later than most, but found a home because of the support of the gymnastics community.
“I feel like I was taken in and now we are all grown up and a family now. I’m excited to see what the future holds, but it’s also really sad to know we will all be gone,” said Steckler, who added that gymnastics is just as much mental as physical. “Skills can definitely get to your head and it’s difficult to do if your head isn’t in the right spot. Knowing that our teammates are here and will support you no matter what makes it a lot easier.”
Saturday’s meet was the last time the seniors will compete for GHS in a home meet. The team travels to the Farmington Valley Invitational this Saturday, Feb 19 (6:30 p.m.) before the qualifying gymnasts head to the Team Divisional Championships at Jonathan Law High School on Feb. 26. The State Open Championships will follow on March 5 at New Milford High School.
As their time in Glastonbury is coming to an end, the captains reflected on the past four years glowingly.
“It’s been really nice to get one more normal-as-possible season for our senior year. It’s cool to be together one more time and do what we know best,” said McKinney, who coaches club gymnastics currently and will look to get more involved with coaching in the future. “It will be weird because my life has been practice four or five days a week and then a meet on the weekend. It’s been a continuous cycle, even in the summer. I want to stay involved and it’s going to be hard, but at the same time we’ll get to move on to the next journey.
Steckler added, “It’s sad because a lot of us girls have been competing since we were young and I’ll really miss it. Chances are I will end up joining a club team [in college] because it is really hard leaving a sport that you have done for so long.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin