Saratoga Springs gymnastics team continues its title streak

Saratoga Springs' Maddy Austin competes on the floor during the Section II gymnastics championships Wednesday at Shaker High School.
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Saratoga Springs' Maddy Austin competes on the floor during the Section II gymnastics championships Wednesday at Shaker High School.

LATHAM — Saratoga Springs kept a couple of impressive streaks going Wednesday at the Section II girls’ gymnastics championships.

Carly Rushack continued a string of all-around winners from Saratoga, and the Blue Streaks performed beyond their years in securing a 20th consecutive team title at Shaker High School.

Rushack was the lone senior in action for Saratoga, Erika Sudigala was the only junior competitor, and the rest of the Saratoga roster showed three sophomores, three freshmen, five eighth-graders and six seventh-graders.

“They did a great job of not letting the pressure get to them,” Rushack, a three-year varsity team member, said after the Blue Streaks amassed 168.725 points. “That’s a good skill to have for 12 and 13 year olds.”

Rushack led the way with an all-around score of 34.500, which included a win on the floor (9.250), a second on the uneven bars (8.200) and a third on the beam (9.050). Guilderland sophomore Addison Seebode was second all-around (33.675) and Saratoga eighth-grader Ayla Skinner was just behind in third (33.525).

Seebode was first at last week’s Suburban Council all-around meet. Rushack was third at that competition after falling five times. The 12th-grader fell only once Wednesday on one of her vault routines and tied for 11th there, yet still prevailed in the all-around category on the strength of her other efforts.

Saratoga gymnasts have earned all-around laurels at eight consecutive Section II championship meets.

“I would say the beam for me,” Rushack said of the event she was most pleased with. “There were a lot of difficult factors. First of all I stayed on, and I hit all my tricks.”

Rushack began her bid for the all-around title on the floor where she scored best at the meet.

“Her floor exercise was gorgeous,” Saratoga coach Deb Smarro said. “She nailed all of her tumbling passes. That was one of the highlights of her day.”

Saratoga’s run of all-around champions began with Julia Van Horne’s four straight from 2014 through 2017 and included Sophia Damiano’s triumph in 2020 when the last Section II meet was held. The Suburban Council schools competed in a year-end meet last winter rather than a Section II-sponsored event due to COVID issues, and Saratoga’s Ava Dallas copped the all-around prize there, too, while the Blue Streaks secured team honors.

Hailey Marini of Guilderland won the all-around competition in 2013. Saratoga athletes also won all-around crowns from 2008-12.

“She’s my senior and I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Smarro said of the 17-year-old Rushack. “The leadership she provided was undeniable, and not only with her performing, but by getting the younger girls going.”

Saratoga scored best as a team on the floor (44.025), vault (41.975) and uneven bars (39.200), and was second on the beam (43.625) behind Bethlehem (44.250).

“This team got better as we went on,” Smarro said. “We kind of did an up and downhill in some events but put it all together in the end. This was a good place to do it.”

Bethlehem (162.150), Guilderland (153.175) and Shaker (150.600) followed Saratoga in the team competition. Shaker was the last team champ in 2001 before Saratoga’s run began, first under the direction of Andrea Snyder-Pedersen and under Smarro beginning in 2007.

“Twenty in a row. It’s crazy,” Rushack said of the Section II win streak put together by all those Saratoga editions. “It’s longer than I’ve been alive. It’s crazy to think about. A lot of it is thanks to her [Smarro].”

Seebode did not win an individual event but placed second on the floor (9.050) and third on the vault (8.400). The sophomore began on the floor.

“Having a good first event gave me a confidence boost,” Seebode said.

Seebode missed much of the season first with a back injury and then after a bout with vertigo.

“She was not cleared for most of the season,” Guilderland coach Brenda Goodknight said. “She’s such a pleasure to have on the team. She works hard, she’s a lot of fun and she is great at getting the girls to bond together.”

Sophomore Miranda Putorti of Guilderland placed first on the balance beam (9.150), freshman Maddy Austin of Saratoga was best on the uneven bars (8.300) and sophomore Charlie Gleeksman of Saratoga was first on the vault (8.800). Those three and the top three all-arounders will be among those representing Section II at the March 5 state gymnastics meet at Kenmore West High School in Buffalo.

Team scores: Saratoga Springs 168.725, Bethlehem 162.150, Guilderland 153.175, Shaker 150.600.

All-Around: Rushack (SS), 34.500; Seebode (Guild), 33.675); Skinner (Sara), 33.550; Browne (BC), 33.525; Putorti (Guild), 33.175; Kosoc (BC), 33.125; Kearns (Shak), 33.100; Austin (SS), 32.925; Gleeksman (SS), 32.925; Sudigala (SS), 32.525.

Vault: Gleeksman (SS), 8.800; Angelina Damiano (SS), 8.650; Seebode (Guild), 8.400; Chiaia Poust (BC), 8.250; Sudigala (SS), 8.175.

Uneven Bars: M. Austin (SS), 8.300; Rushack (Sara), 8.200; Skinner (Sara), 8.000; Browne (BC), 8.000; Gleeksman (Sara), 7.850.

Balance Beam: Putorti (Guild), 9.150; Ella Bishop (BC), 9.100; Rushack (SS), 9.050; Kosovo (BC), 9.000; M. Austin (SS), 9.975.

Floor: Rushack (SS), 9.250; Seebode (Guild), 9.050; Sudigala (SS), 8.950; Browne (BC), 8.775; Kearns (Shak), 8.750.

Categories: High School Sports, Saratoga Springs, Sports

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