Saratoga Springs gymnast Sophia Damiano began her senior season with another Section II-record performance.
It happened Sunday at a three-team fundraiser for Hatsgiving when the Blue Streaks veteran scored a 9.65 on her vault routine at World Class Gymnastics Academy in Latham.
“It’s the best vault I’ve ever had,” the 17-year-old Damiano said. “You’re never sure what the judges are thinking, but as I was flipping through the air, I thought I was going to score pretty well.”
Damiano scored a 9.475 on the vault at the state meet last season to place fifth and tie the Section II record that her teammate and fellow senior Ava Dallas had previously set.
“I was really excited to get that at the state meet,” Damiano said. “To get it [Sunday] and pass it by a decent amount was more than I expected.”
Damiano performed a Yurchenko layout in setting the Section II record, which included a round-off onto the springboard, a back handspring off of it it and a flip in the air before landing.
“Her form was excellent,” Saratoga coach Deb Smarro said. “Gymnastics 101. She stuck it.”
That didn’t happen on her first attempt.
“On the first one, I had two big steps out of it,” Damiano said. “I really wanted it on my second vault. I knew I could score higher.”
Damiano used the same vault routine at the Section II championships last season when she won the event with a meet-record 9.45.
“She is a little more comfortable with that vault,” Smarro said. “She has built confidence.”
Damiano also ranked first on the balance beam and uneven bars Sunday, and was second to Dallas on the floor exercise. Damiano ranked first among the all-around competitors like she did as a junior when she won the Section II individual title.
There was no team scoring at the season-starting meet that saw Guilderland, Shaker and Saratoga compete at staggered times as a COVID-19 safety measure. The athletes wore masks at all times, except while performing their routines.
“It was a good test for our protocols,” Smarro said. “It was a good test for the girls to show their stuff.”
Smarro said three bags full of hats (as well as financial donations) that were collected as part of the meet will aid cancer patients at the Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center and other regional pediatric cancer treatment centers. Since 2013, the Hatsgiving organization has provided soft, warm hats for children who have lost their hair while battling cancer.
“It was nice to start the season off with a charity event,” said Smarro. “It was a successful day.”