Holmdel senior gymnast Kendall Valentin almost swept all four individual events on her way to winning the NJSIAA Central I sectional’s all-around title on Saturday at Manalapan High School.
Valentin won bars, beam and floor and if not for a slight mistake on vault, she might have walked away with four wins but nevertheless she had an outstanding day with an all-around score of 38.4.
“I was really happy with the scores from my first three events. I had a mishap on vault, my ankle was kind of hurting me and the table wasn’t set to the correct height that I usually go on,” Valentin said. “So, I kind of landed short. I thought I could have done a better vault but because of the vault-table situation, I couldn’t.”
Valentin scored a 9.7 on bars to beat Red Bank Catholic’s Tara Mills (9.65). On beam, Valentin defeated Ocean Township’s Cassidy Marquette, 9.625 to 9.325. On floor, Valentin defeated Howell’s Monica Servidio, 9.625 to 9.5.
“I’m trying to hit every single one of my routines,” Valentin said. “I hit them all at Shore Conference and that was a confidence booster for the sectional meet today.”
The only person to outscore Valentin in an individual event was Middletown North’s Dominiquea Trotter on vault. Trotter produced a 9.575 score to Valentin’s 9.45.
“My best event is probably the vault,” Trotter said. “At the Shore Conference meet, I got a 9.875 on vault.”
But on Saturday, Trotter’s 9.575 was enough though to keep Valentin from claiming four first-place finishes. In addition to Valentin and Trotter (third, 37.35), seven other gymnasts finished with 36.0 or more points in the all-around to advance to the state individual meet.
Servidio (second, 37.625), Mills (fourth, 37.125) and Freehold’s Jenna Crisalli (fifth, 37.05) rounded out the top five in the all-around competition. Holmdel’s Tess Zientek was sixth (36.575), Colts Neck’s Sophie Garito was seventh (36.05) and Ocean’s Marquette and Middletown South’s Kerra Masella tied for eighth with a 36.025 score.
In the team competition, Red Bank Catholic under second-year coach Ronanne DeRosa defeated Holmdel, 110.125 to 108.500 to win the NJSIAA Central 1 sectional title.
“They did an amazing job and our team is really talented this year. All of the girls that competed today are kids that have been doing gymnastics since they were six or seven years old,” DeRosa said. “I know all of them just from being around coaching. They’ve all put their time in, they’ve all paid their dues, they all practice five days a week.”
Howell (108.2), Ocean Township (106.85) and 2012 NJSIAA Central I sectional champion Freehold (106.275) rounded out the top five in the team competition.
SOUTH SECTIONAL: Brick Memorial won the South Jersey sectional title at Seneca High School behind the strong performances of senior Arianna Turso and sophomore Emily Clayton.
Turso (36.6) and Clayton (36.15) finished fifth and sixth in the all-around and will represent Brick Memorial at the state individual meet on Nov. 16.
Turso had her best showing on bars, which she won with a 9.525 score and Clayton finished sixth on vault (9.1), bars (9.25) and floor (9.075).
Lacey’s Kierstin Sokolowski won the all-around and will also attend the state individual meet with a score of 37.675 on the strength of her first-place finishes in the vault (9.825) and floor (9.55).