LATHAM — Kate Browne experienced disappointment at last year’s Section II gymnastics championships when she placed fourth in the all-around and just missed going to the state meet in that category.
The Bethlehem sophomore made a significant move up at Wednesday night’s area title meet with a first in the all-around, and the team trophy stayed right where it’s been for the last two decades, in Saratoga Springs’ possession.
Browne ended a Saratoga monopoly in winning the all-around, while the Blue Streaks captured their 21st consecutive team award with a display of depth that included a second and third all-around showing by Maddy Austin and Ellie Ott.
“This is pretty exciting,” Browne said before the awards were handed out. “I didn’t make the state team in all-around last year by one spot, and that’s something I wanted. I wasn’t sure what my scores were, but I knew I did better than last year.”
After totaling 33.525 points as a freshman, Browne scored 34.125 points in her return, highlighted by a first-place 8.400 on the uneven bars. She also placed third on the floor (8.600), tied for third on the balance beam (8.875) and finished seventh with her vault routine (8.250).
“The bars are probably my best event,” said Browne, a 15-year-old who competes for club team Twist and Flip out of Glenmont. “I get nervous before the other events, and then I get going and feel pretty good. I don’t get nervous before the bars.”
Saratoga athletes had secured all-around honors eight years in a row before Browne ended that string.
“She knew there was a good possibility if she hit her routines,” Bethlehem coach Julie Bushart said of Browne winning the all-around. “She knew what she had to do.”
Austin scored 33.725 points and also made a big jump up after placing eighth in the all-around last year as a freshman. Her best individual effort came on the uneven bars with a tie for second (8.200) with Shaker’s Alyssa Caiano.
“I didn’t want to fall on the beam,” Austin said. “I wanted to connect on my bar routine. I wanted to stick one of my vaults.”
The vault is where Saratoga began, and also where it lost one of its senior leaders, Erika Sudigala, to an ankle injury.
“She usually scores high,” Austin said. “That put a little more pressure on us. I wanted to do it for her.”
Ott won the vault competition with a 9.050, which was part of her 33.650 all-around score.
“She has been with me for six years and she is amazing,” Saratoga coach Deb Smarro said of Sudigala. “The other girls 100% stepped up and did it for their senior leader.”
Seven Saratoga competitors placed among the top 12 all-arounders, including fourth-place Lily McKinley (33.250).
“They are all really good,” Browne said. “I have a lot of respect for them. I needed to try hard and do my best.”
Shaker in 2001 was the last team to win a Section II team title before Saratoga’s run that was extended with 167.675 points Wednesday. Saratoga’s vast collections of area team titles also includes victories in 2000, 1996-97, and 1988-90.
Saratoga has established itself as one of the great Section II dynasty teams that have strung consecutive championships. Others include the Bethehem boys’ swim team (29 years, 1973-2001), Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls’ volleyball team (20 years, current) and the Saratoga girls’ cross country team (17 years, 2000-16).
“It takes a lot of hard work and dedication,” Smarro said. “It takes a lot of desire.”
Saratoga scored best on the vault (43.350), uneven bars (38.750) and beam (43.400), and tied for first with Shaker (42.175) on the floor. Shaker, bolstered by Colonie gymnasts this season, scored 160.150 points for the team runner-up spot.
Caiano and Addison Seebode of Guilderland tied for fifth in the all-around (33.200), with Seebode winning the beam (9.025) and floor (9.125) awards.
The top three all-around finishers and the next best three finishers in each event qualified for the March 4 state meet at Kenmore West High School in Buffalo.
Saratoga Springs 167.675, Shaker 160.150, Bethlehem 159.825, Guilderland 149.275.
Vault — Ott (Sara), 9.050; DiMaggio (Sara), 8.800; McKinley (Sara), 8.750; Gleeksman (Sara), 8.450; Stark (Shak), 8.350; Skinner (Sara), 8.300; Browne (Beth), 8.250; Austin (Sara), 8.225; Fitzgerald (Shak), 8.200; Uveges (Beth), 8.200.
Uneven bars — Browne, 8.400; Austin, 8.200; Caiano (Shak), 8.200; Kosovo (Beth), 7.900; DiMaggio, 7.750; Gleeksman, 7.700; Ott, 7.600; McKinley, 7.500; Damiano (Sara), 7.500; Sprengnether (Sara), 7.450.
Balance beam — Seebode (Guild), 9.025; Putorti (Guild), 8.900; Browne, 8.875; Murray (Shak), 8.875; Austin, 8.850; Allen (Sara), 8.825; McKinley, 8.750; Ott, 8.600; Kearns (Shak), 8.500; Pan (Beth), 8.450.
Floor — Seebode, 9.125; Putorti, 9.050; Browne, 8.600; Gleeksman, 8.550; Trimarchi (Shak), 8.550; Fitzgerald, 8.525; Austin, 8.450; Caiano, 8.450; Ott, 8.400; DiMaggio, 8.400.
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Categories: High School Sports, Saratoga Springs, Sports, Sports