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All Around Great Performance: Gymnasts Overcome Early Adversity, Win Championship

Published: February 07, 2019 at 10:47 pm

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Newtown High School’s gymnastics team had two of the top three all around competitors, led by South-West Conference championship MVP Hannah Jojo, and the Nighthawks edged Oxford for the title, at neutral site New Milford High, on February 7.

The Nighthawks had a team score of 132.900, and Oxford finished with 130.800.

Newtown lost a point and a half on falls in the first event of the evening, the balance beam competition, but bounced back with a strong floor exercise, vault performance, and uneven bars effort to take home the crown.

Jojo had the top all around score with a 34.75, and Ally Kenny was third in the all around with a 33.85.

“I’m very pleased. It’s hard going out and doing beam first,” Newtown Coach Kim Kane said. “It’s the one event if you don’t control your emotions, you fall and you have to get back on the beam.”

On the floor, it is much easier to recover from a stumble, the coach added.

But the Nighthawks kept their composure and bounced back admirably.

“They’re going to try to make up those points. They’re going to fight ’til the end,” Kane said after her team’s second event, the floor exercise.

“We were all a little nervous on the beam. It definitely motivated us to do better with all the other events,” Jojo said. “It feels amazing. I’m extremely happy.”

Jojo was first on the vault with an 8.65, and bars with a 9.0. She came in fourth on beam with a score of 8.4, and was third on the floor with an 8.7.

Jojo’s floor effort featured a new routine, a build off of her sequence throughout the season, that brought Newtown some bonus points.

“We needed that extra little push,” Kane said.

Kenny placed third on both vault (8.55) and bars (8.5), was fifth on beam (8.3), and tied for fifth on the floor (8.5).

Marisa Choi scored an 8.6 on vault to earn runner-up tie in the event. Brynn Reilly had an 8.5 on vault, to place fourth, Mary Locke had an 8.35 on vault, good for a share of fifth. It was a log jam at the podium with a four-way tie for sixth place. The top six in each event were recognized, with the top three earning medals.

Locke had a 7.7 to tie for sixth on the bars, and Reilly logged a 7.9 for fifth on the bars.

Kane noted that the performers and the rest of the team all put in a great effort to help the Hawks come out on top.

“They really supported each other. It was definitely a team effort, making sure the mats were in the right places, boards moved for mounts. Everybody was on top of their game,” the NHS coach said.

Oxford was without its top gymnast, due to injury. Last year, Newtown was narrowly beaten by Oxford when the Nighthawks’ top gymnast competed but was not at full strength due to illness.

Kane was impressed with the performances of all of the teams with improved showings in comparison to earlier-season results, across the board.

“I’m happy for everybody,” Kane said. “Everybody has been upping their scores.”

New Milford was third with a score of 126.750, Pomperaug of Southbury fourth with a 126.200, and Nonnewaug placed fifth with a score of 123.450.

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