Missing a top gymnast and captain is tough for most teams to overcome. The Staples gymnastics team was in that predicament on Friday because junior co-captain Emily Fishman was out and it hosted Pomperaug, who had the third highest scoring average going into the meet.

Although Staples lost 140.15-124.35 and dropped to 3-2, it showed many positive signs and left the meet feeling good about its performance.

"I thought the team stepped up," Lady Wreckers Coach Kelsey Martin said. "Pomperaug is one of the elite teams in the state. The depth of the team was endless and quite impressive. Without one all-arounder, we could make very few mistakes. We excelled on floor. The girls tried some new additions to the routines that worked very well. Beam was an improvement for us and did not have nearly as many falls. Our bars need some more cleaning."

Staples had one of -- if not -- its highest score of the year on floor exercise with 34.05 points. The Lady Wreckers tallied 32.2 on vault, 30.4 on the balance beam and 27.7 on the uneven bars.

Two freshmen led Staples, which has been the case all year with Ana Violette achieving an all-around score of 32.6 and Lindsay Kiedaisch (31.85) was second for the team.

"This meet was a lot better for our team as a whole and we showed what we had," Violette said. "We didn't have many practices because of the snow so I applied the knowledge that I had and it worked out for me."

Kiedaisch said, "I was very happy with my performance. I was a little disappointed on bars but practice makes perfect and I need to practice a lot on bars."

Violette showed a lot of command on floor in connecting her passes and enthralling the crowd with her dance moves in scoring an 8.8.

"Floor is my strongest event and I had a lot of adrenaline," Violette said. "It helped having new tumbling passes and I was able to show off my routine."

Kiedaisch (8.6) was also strong on floor and mastered her new trick, a layout half.

"I've been going to Westport Y and I trained on it there," Kiedaisch said. "I knew what I had to do and I wanted to increase my score and bumped it [my level of difficulty] up."

Senior co-captain Zoe Heller, who was third in the all-around category (30.5), also excelled on floor, combining power and grace. Heller led the team on vault (8.35) and Violette (8.1) was second for the Lady Wreckers in sticking her half on, half off, vault.

"I just tried to make it as perfect as I could and I'm happy with my score," Violette said.

Also doing a half on, half off and finishing close to Violette was Kiedaisch (8.05).

"I'm pretty happy with vault," Kiedaisch said. "As soon as I jumped on, I had to put my hands on and made sure I got a good pop."

The freshmen virtually duplicated each other on beam with both scoring 7.9 and neither of them fell. Heller was close behind on beam (7.6).

"I made sure I was tight everywhere," Kiedaisch said. "I knew what I was doing, I put my mind to it and I performed like I did in practice."

Violette said, "I concentrated on each skill and I stayed focused as much as I could."

On bars, Violette mastered a new trick, uprises, to free hips in tallying a 7.8. The lack of practice time because of the snow didn't give her the opportunity to fine tune it but that didn't faze her.

"I just went for it in warm-ups and it improved my score," Violette said.

Although Kiedaisch wasn't satisfied with her bar score (7.3), she still held her own. Heller (6.0) also competed on bars.

Junior Morgan Cravenho competed all-around (28.6) for Staples. Cravenho was strong on vault (7.7) and floor (7.3) and showed good signs on beam (7.0) and bars (6.6).

Classmate Katie Blumenfeld had her score on floor (8.1) count towards the team total with one of her best scores on floor. Blumenfeld also competed on bars (5.4) and beam (5.1).

"I believe Morgan and Katie stepped up incredibly in Emily's absence," Martin said. "It was a team effort and I'm proud of the girls. We did the best we could and scored the same we have been all season."

The Lady Wreckers may feel good about their performance but they refuse to be complacent and know they need to improve in future meets.

"We need to focus on bars and beam," Martin said. "We have to increase the difficulty and connections on each of those events. On vault we have to add some difficulty."