Saratoga Springs extends gymnastics streak

Make that 18 in a row
Saratoga Springs sophomore Ava Dallas had the best floor exercise score at the Section II championships.
Saratoga Springs sophomore Ava Dallas had the best floor exercise score at the Section II championships.

LATHAM — The biggest stage for Section II girls’ gymnastics once again saw a dominant performance from Saratoga Springs.

The Blue Streaks won every prize available and ran away with their 18th straight team championship Wednesday night at Shaker High School.

“We try to treat it like just another meet,” Saratoga coach Deb Smarro said just before the awards ceremony. “We come in and do our thing. We support each other. Whatever the result is, the result is.”

The team result was not only the same for the 18th year in a row, but 19th time in 20 years and for the 25th time going back to Saratoga’s first title in 1981.

“A lot of their girls work out year ’round,” said Shaker coach Marbry Gansle, who serves as the Section II and state coordinator for the sport. “Their kids work really hard. They deserve what they get.”

Saratoga won the team championship with a season-high 175.075 points after scoring best on the floor (45.150), vault (43.175), uneven parallel bars (42.750) and meet-closing balance beam (44.000), where the Blue Streaks senior Laura Eberlein clinched her all-around title.

“I’m happy for today, but really happy for the whole season,” Smarro said. “As a group, they came a long way from the beginning of the season.”

“Their routines were very well choreographed,” Gansle said. “They looked great out there.”

Saratoga wrapped up its 12th straight Suburban Council dual meet title earlier this winter, and also secured team championships at the Shaker Invitational, Kate Filiberti Memorial Invitational and its own invitational as a prelude to the sectionals.

“We worked so hard this year,” said Saratoga sophomore Ava Dallas, Wednesday’s all-around runner-up and the 2018 all-around winner. “Coach pushed us and pushed us. We did a lot of reps. It paid off for the team.”

“I think we hit a season high [for team points],” Smarro said. “It’s depth. Performing difficulty well. I don’t know. Maybe I just have a knack.”

Gansle’s Shaker team claimed the Section II flag in 2001 before Saratoga began its current string the following year under then-coach Andrea Snyder-Pedersen. Snyder-Pedersen’s 2005 edition, anchored by all-around winner Kaitlyn Dewey, set a Section II meet record record with 180.325 points. Smarro has guided the Blue Streaks to the last 13 team titles.

“For the past 13 years, Coach has had some amazing gymnasts,” Eberlein said after scoring best on the vault,bars and beam and taking third floor. “It’s great to be a part of that.”

Saratoga’s Sophia Damiano placed third all-around, and Blue Streaks Kate Della Ratta, Megan Wishart and Molly Russell finished seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively. Five of the next 11 all-around spots also belonged to Saratoga athletes.

“They have a great program,” Gansle said. “Debbie does a great job with them. Andrea got them going. Debbie picked it up and kept it going.”

Before Saratoga’s sectional streak, Shaker owned the most consecutive Section II gymnastics titles with five from 1991-95, when Shannon Bagley earned four all-around crowns. Saratoga’s Julia Van Horne matched those four all-around crowns from 2014-17 to equal the Section II record.

The 18 straight Section II team titles is not a Section II record, but is among the longest stretches in area high school history. Among the other impressive streaks are the 29 in a row forged by the Bethlehem boys’ swimming and diving team from 1973-2001, the 17 in a row put together by the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls’ volleyball team from 2002 through this past fall and the 17 in a row attained by the Saratoga girls’ cross country team from 2000-2016.

Team scores: Saratoga Springs 175.075, Guilderland 161.000, Bethlehem 160.800, Shaker 135.350.

All-Around: Laura Eberlein (Sara), 36.600; Ava Dallas (Sara), 36.225; Sophia Damiano (Sara), 36.150; Rachel Drislane (Guild), 34.650; Allison Rem (Guild), 34.450; Alison Gray (Beth), 33.625; Kate Della Ratta (Sara), 32.075; Megan Wishart (Sara), 32.050; Molly Russell (Sara), 31.825; Chiara Poust (Beth), 31.775; Madalyn Altieri (Guild), 31.775.

Vault: Eberlein (Sara), 8.900; Damiano (Sara), 8.850; Dallas (Sara), 8.825); Wishart (Sara), 8.450; Drislane (Guild), 8.300; Gray (Beth), 8.275; Trinity Walters (Beth), 8.200; Della Ratta (Sara), 8.150; Olivia Allen (Sara), 8.125; Altieri (Guild), 8.100.

Uneven Bars: Eberlein (Sara), 9.125; Dallas (Sara), 9.050; Damiano (Sara), 9.000; Rem (Guild), 8.275; Russell (Sara), 7.875; Drislane (Guild), 7.800; Della Ratta (Sara), 7.700; Mia Farley (Beth), 7.350; Gray (beth), 7.300; Emily Ward (Sara), 7.250.

Balance Beam: Eberlein (Sara), 9.300; Drislane (Guild), 9.250; Rem (Guild), 9.100; Damiano (Sara), 9.050; Gray (Beth), 9.000; Dallas (Sara), 8.925; Poust (Beth), 8.750; Soleil Lucarelli (Beth), 8.675; Sophia Sperling (Sara), 8.500; Riley Guy (Beth), 8.350.

Floor: Dallas (Sara), 9.425; Drislane (Guild), 9.300; Eberlein (Sara), 9.275; Damiano (Sara), 9.250; Gray (Beth), 9.050; Rem (Guild), 9.000; Wishart (Sara), 8.650; Altieri (Guild), 8.600; Allen (Sara), 8.550; Erika Sudigala (Sara), 8.525.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

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