The NJSIAA Individual championship meet at Mongtomery High School showcased some of the Shore Conference’s finest gymnasts, however, none shone in the light quite like Howell’s Bayleigh Fobes.
The Rebels’ senior entered Saturday’s competition humbled as she hadn’t returned to this level of competition since her freshman year, and, admittedly, expected a venture to this meet to be an annual tradition.
“My freshman year I made it here for the uneven bars,” explained Fobes, “and didn’t do so well, but I figured, whatever, I’ll be back next year for the all-around. It’s not a big deal. And that wasn’t the case.”
As she toed the runway and made her quick-footed sprint toward the vault, the determined gaze with which she attacked the 27-yard approach developed an air of extraordinary feats around the attempt. Fobes launched off the apparatus with tremendous velocity, allowing the senior to dismount and propel herself into a front-flipping motion, traveling around her center one-and-a-half times before sticking the landing and earning a score of 9.75 (the highest of the day in any event by any participant) … and that was the simplest aspect of her afternoon.
Fobes started the vault rotation. In other words, she set the bar and had an entire field of athletes that still needed to take their run at first place. As it turns out, the waiting is the hardest part.
“Waiting to watch everyone else was terrible,” said Fobes of her nerves. “Everyone that was scoring high on the vault are my friends, so I wanted them to do well, but at the same time, not too good.”
“But I’ve been friends with some of these girls since second grade. We know we’re all going to go out there and do the best we can and let whatever happens happen.”
“The wait was nerve-wracking,” concurred Howell’s Head Coach Jennifer Hier. “Watching her compete and then keeping track of all the scores brought a lot of anxiety. But she did her absolute best and the biggest thing.”
“Bayleigh has practiced and practiced to perfect her vault,” continued Hier. “She’s been a part of our team for four years now and see her go out as the state champion is the most amazing feeling as a coach. To have this amazing milestone cap off her high school career is amazing.”
Holmdel’s Kendal Valentin also offered an impressive showcase of her gymnastics prowess finishing second in the all-around scoring with a total of 37.975 including a second place performances on the uneven bars (9.625) and floor exercise (9.55), as well as 9.5 on the vault, and a 9.3 on the balance beam.
The two-headed Freehold Boro all-around assault of Jennifer King and Jenna Crisalli did the Colonials proud in this NJSIAA competition but, still feeling the effects of a Thursday evening spent at Manalapan High School capturing the program’s third consecutive sectional title, were unable to come away with any individual hardware.
However, King managed a third place showing in the All-Around competition earning a total score of 37.800 by sandwiching scores of 9.55 on the vault and 9.475 on beam between a high score of 9.575 on the uneven bars and 9.2 in the floor exercise.
Crisalli reached heights of 9.525 in the floor exercise followed by 9.375 on the uneven bars, a 9.2 on the balance beam, and a 9.05 on the vault.
Middletown North’s Dominique Trotter was the only competitor to truly challenge Fobes in the vault putting forth a performance worthy of a 9.725, which placed the junior impressively in second place.
Red Bank Catholic’s Maura and Tara Mills also put forth strong efforts, the former in the all-around earning a 9.2 on the uneven bars, a 9.1 on the beam, an 8.625 in the floor exercise, as well an 8.55 on the vault, while the latter garnered a 9.35 on her sole performance upon the uneven bars.