LATHAM — There were no Section II prizes to go after or state meet berths up for grabs, but there was a title on the line and a streak to keep intact.
That was more than enough motivation for the Saratoga Springs gymnastics team.
“We’ve been here four years and we haven’t had a loss in a dual meet or an invitational in the section,” Saratoga’s Sophia Damiano said of fellow senior Ava Dallas and herself. “We wanted to keep that legacy going. We wanted to show that this is what we’re about, and that’s having fun and putting the work in.”
The payoff for the Blue Streaks’ efforts was yet another team championship to cap off this shortened winter season that has been so impacted by the coronavirus.
Behind the exploits of Dallas and Damiano, the Blue Streaks scored 171.575 points Sunday to beat out Guilderland, Bethlehem and Shaker at the Suburban Council championship meet at World Class Gymnastics Academy.
Saratoga had swept past those three opponents in a 6-0 regular season showing, and with Sunday’s victory at the first-of-its kind event, it completed a 14th consecutive unbeaten campaign against area competition.
“I think it was a little magic,” Saratoga coach Deb Smarro said of the perfect season that was forged with a handful of veteran performers and bunch of newcomers. “We took all of the safety protocols to heart so we could keep our season going and get in the gym, and a lot of it was our senior leadership. What they taught the little ones went a long way.”
Following a safety measure that was used throughout the season, the four teams competed separately Sunday, with Shaker going first, followed by Bethlehem, Guilderland and Saratoga, which got an all-around-winning performance from Dallas and a runner-up effort from Damiano.
Smarro didn’t tell her group what the other teams had scored, and none of her youngsters asked before they started putting up their own points.
“Why add any pressure?” Smarro said. “We had our moment. I told them to go out and show everybody what you learned this year. Show that you appreciated having a season. ‘The end result will be the end result.’ “
“We definitely tried to make it more fun because it’s such an abnormal season,” Damiano said.
Big numbers recorded by Dallas and Damiano, though, were certainly normal.
Dallas, who won the Section II all-around title as a sophomore, scored 36.9 points to gain one more scholastic-level crown. Damiano, who earned Section II all-around honors as a junior, placed second with 36.325. Senior Ali Gray of Bethehem was third all-around with a 34.9.
Dallas nearly took the top spot in everything, with firsts on the uneven bars (9.0), balance beam (9.15) and floor (9.475), and a second on the vault (9.275) behind Damiano (9.65), the Section II record-holder in the event.
“I was hoping to go four-for-four and stay on all four events,” said Dallas, who slipped off the beam while attempting a difficult flip move. “It is what it is. I’m pretty happy overall.”
Dallas would have relished one more state meet opportunity. That competition, as well as the Section II meet, were canceled a while back due to concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am pretty upset that we don’t get states and this is the Suburban Council and not Section II, but I am grateful that we had a season,” Dallas said.
Damiano placed second on the bars (8.4) and beam (9.15), and junior teammate Carly Ruschack was second on the floor (9.3).
“Our little ones have learned from the best,” said Smarro, whose team includes two seventh-graders, four eighth-graders and a trio of freshmen. “In the coming years it will be their turn to shine.”
Guilderland scored 161.375 points to secure second in the team standings. Dutchmen senior Addie Seebodie finished fourth (33.75) in the all-around tabulation, and was third on the beam (8.9).
“I’m really happy. They were on their ‘A’ game,” Guilderland coach Brenda Goodknight said. “Our seniors really stepped up. Rock solid.”.
Saratoga Springs 171.575, Guilderland 161.375, Bethlehem 160.475, Shaker 142.75
All-Around — Ava Dallas (SS), 36.9; Sophia Damiano (SS), 36.325; Ali Gray (B), 34.9; Addie Seebode (G), 33.75; Carly Ruschack (SS), 33.1; Carli Rem (G), 32.975; Chloe Kosoc (B), 32.475; Allie Rem (G), 32.475; Charlie Gleeksman (SS), 31.925; Maddy Austin (SS), 31.9.
Vault — Damiano, 9.65; Dallas, 9.275; Gray, 8.875; Farley, 8.55; A. Rem, 8.15; Megan Wishart (SS), 8.15; Gianna Scuzzarella (G), 8.15; Altieri (G), 8.125; Soleil Lucarelli (B), 8.125; Ruschack, 8.10.
Bars — Dallas, 9.0; Damiano, 9.65; Gray, 8.05; Angelina Daimano (SS), 8.0; Seebode, 7.55; Gleeksman, 7.4; Ruschack, 7.35; Austin, 7.15; Kosoc, 6.9; Wishart, 6.9.
Beam — Dallas, 9.15; S. Damiano, 9.15; Seebode, 8.9; Kosoc, 8.8; Gray, 8.75; A. Rem, 8.725; C. Rem, 8.7; Alyssa Kearns (Sha), 8.65; Austin, 8.5; Ruschack, 8.35.
Floor — Dallas, 9.475; Ruschack, 9.3; Gray, 9.225; S. Damiano, 9.125; C. Rem, 9.125; Seebode, 9.1; A. Rem, 8.9, Kosoc, 8.875; Miranda Putorti (G), 8.8; Erika Irwin (G), 8.775.