LATHAM — Senior Laura Eberlein took first place Wednesday to help lead Saratoga Springs to another Section II gymnastics overall team championship.
Eberlein, a five-year varsity veteran who finished in fourth place last year, received the high scores in the vault, uneven bars and balance beam events, giving her a total score of 36.600 to take the individual all-around championship at Shaker High School.
“I went in today like, ‘My goal is top three,’ ” Eberlein said. “This is exactly what I wanted and more.”
“This one holds a little special place,” Saratoga coach Deb Smarro said. “Laura has worked exceedingly hard in the offseason. She knew exactly what her goals were, she was very vocal about those goals [and] she was hard-driven to accomplish them.”
Eberlein went into the night’s final event tied with teammate and defending champion Ava Dallas at 27.300, while Saratoga’s Sophia Damiano trailed them by two-tenths of a point. Dallas, who scored 9.425 points to top the floor event, fell off the balance beam and finished the competition ranked second with 36.225 points.
“I just thought of being confident because I usually tend to hold back, especially on the beams, so I really wanted to attack it. And I felt like I did that,” Dallas said.
“Doing beam last is kind of mentally boggling. It’s hit or miss, and it could make or break all of it,” said Eberlein, whose 9.300 points on the beam tied her varsity career best.
Smarro, who has coached the team for 13 of its past 18 championship-winning years, also mentioned the difficulty of the event rotation.
“You’ve got to be mentally tough at the end of the meet, and the majority of my kids stayed on the beam,” she said. “I really can’t ask for anything more.”
Saratoga began on the floor event with Eberlein ranking third at 9.275 points. The vault, uneven bars and balance beam followed, in which Eberlein scored 8.900, 9.125, and 9.300 respectively.
Winning her first individual championship in her senior year was an emotional experience for Eberlein, as well as for her coach and teammates.
“I’m really going to miss her a lot,” Dallas said. “We’ve grown so close this year, so I’m really happy that she got to go out with a bang.”
“Proud is not even enough of a word for me to say how I feel about what she’s done,” Smarro said.
Hanna Smith is an intern at The Daily Gazette. Smith is a student at Hudson Valley Community College.