By Eliot Schickler

eschickler@bcnnew.com

First meets of the year are usually the toughest and Tuesday's meet between the Staples and Weston gymnastics teams at Weston Middle School wasn't an exception to the rule. Both teams use this school as the home base and Staples defeated Weston, the designated home team, 122.4-71.75.

"I thought we were very composed," Lady Wreckers Coach Kelsey Martin, who won her first meet of her coaching career, said. "We have to work on our connections and there's room for improvement, but I'm glad to get our first meet out of the way. It's a good start point-wise and we can only improve from here."

Lady Trojans Coach Salina Tavella said, "The kids did great yesterday. This was their best first-meet of the season as far as confidence and preparation goes in the three years I've been here. Going in, I was concerned about bars but we did better there than we did on beam."

Staples outscored Weston on every event, 32.45-28.95 on vault, 27.75-11.1 on the uneven bars, 31.2-8 on the balance beam and 30.8-23.7 on floor exercise.

Freshmen Anna Violette was the top all-around gymnast for the Lady Wreckers with a 30.9 and was followed by classmate Lindsay Kiedasch (30.75), junior co-captain Emily Fishman (30.15) and senior co-captain Zoe Heller (28.35). Junior Morgan Cravenho (26.9) also competed all-around for Staples.

Martin feels encouraged that her two top performers are freshman and believes they both have bright futures with the program.

"It just shows growth in the Staples program," Martin said. "The older girls have been good leaders and the younger ones have to get rid of the jitters and get used to high school meets. If they do, they will be formidable at FCIACs."

Violette scored an 8.15 on vault, 7.15 on bars, 8.1 on beam and a 7.5 on floor. Kiedasch tallied a 7.85 on vault, 7.3 on bars, 7.75 on beam and a 7.85 on floor. Fishman (8.2-7.0-7.3-7.65), Heller (8.25-6.3-6.0-7.8) and Cravenho (7.8-5.6-7.4-6.1) were stellar on vault.

Junior Katie Blumenfeld didn't compete on vault for the Lady Wreckers, scored a 5.5 on bars, 5.6 on beam and a 7.05 on floor.

Martin, who graduated from Fairfield Ludlowe in 2006, took over for Melissa Zigmont, who stepped down to focus on motherhood. The new Staples coach is looking forward to this experience and remains modest about herself and her new position.

"It's different from competing but I enjoy it," Martin said. "I have a lot of learning to do but I'm confident I can do it and I'll get better."

Junior Lexi Gandal (20.35) was Weston's top all-around performer and was followed by freshman Katurah Sarno (18) and sophomore Tori Kwan (15.8). Gandal scored a 7.45 on vault, 4.0 on bars and a 6.4 on floor. Sarno tallied a 7.4 on vault and led the Lady Trojans on floor (6.5). Kwan did well on vault (7.1) and is expected to improve on floor (4.7) and her other two events.

Raising her score from last year for the Lady Trojans was junior captain Lena Romaldini, who scored a 6.0 on vault and a 5.0 on floor.

"Lena has improved," Tavella said. "She's the heart of the team and has stepped up as captain. She's dedicated herself towards improving and has done wonderful things for the team."

Junior Maddie Ratte tallied a 7.0 on vault and a 5.8 on floor. Freshman Natalie Hassett scored a 4.35 on floor.

One bright spot for Weston was it was missing two top scorers, junior Mary Corcoran, who is recovering from an injury, and sophomore Annabel Shea, who is expected to compete after the school vacation break.

"Our numbers are higher than in the past and I like everyone on the team," Tavella said.