With just one meet left before Saturday's FCIAC championships, the Staples High gymnastics team is finally getting back to full strength.
The Wreckers opened the season in December with injuries, but they've posted slightly increasing scores as the year's progressed. The highest of those scores (128.05) came in their most recent competition, Feb. 2 against Darien and New Canaan, with their lineup intact for the first time.
"We had actually our top six girls competing, so we only had one out. It was the first time we've actually had our top five all-around compete in everything," Staples coach Kelsey Martin said on Monday. "That was definitely really good.
"It was a comfort to have all five of them compete."
Led by junior Anna Violette, who has averaged a score of 32.39, Staples has enjoyed some success this season. The Wreckers have outscored the opposition in six of their eight meets and have recorded an average score of 124.08. Heading into their regular-season finale on Wednesday -- against Trumbull and New Milford at the Gymnastics Cheer Academy in Fairfield -- they're seeded fourth in the nine-team FCIAC.
Staples' other top scorers in the all-around have been sophomore Andrea Mahieu (31.55), junior Deanna Baris (30.86) and freshman Kacey Hertan (29.24). Freshman Sophia Stanley has yet to compete in all five events, but has averaged a 31.90.
"We wanted to finish in the top three -- that was our goal -- so we're right about there," Martin said.
Currently behind Wilton, Fairfield Ludlowe and Trumbull in the conference, Staples has seen its scores rise since its Jan. 17 meet at Greenwich. The Wreckers posted a 123.45 against the Cardinals, then notched scores of 123.90 and 128.05 in their next two competitions.
"We've really gone over the last couple weeks cleaning the routines up and practicing, practicing and making sure they hit every point," Martin said.
Martin, now in her third year coaching Staples, said that her team's weakness is still the balance beam, but added that the techniques have improved.
"It's the most nervewracking (event)," Martin said. "It's four-and-a-half feet above the ground. Any wrong little turn, any little step, you're off the beam. Ironically, this is the most we've ever practiced beam. It's just the girls are nervous."
Martin, however, says she sees potential in her team, but it's a matter of executing on the beam.
"It could be our strongest, but everyone just keeps falling," she said. "If we nail beam, then we can have a chance to place top two in FCIACs."
By posting one of the top 24 scoring averages in the state, Staples has already qualified for the State Open on March 1.
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