On Thursday, Alexis Mena got what she always wanted.
Mena, competing for Wappingers, won the all-around competition at the Section 1 gymnastics championships at Carmel High School with a score of 37.475, becoming the first Dutchess County gymnast in at least a decade to capture that accolade.
“I’m just really excited because it’s my last year, and I won, too,” said Mena, a senior at Roy C. Ketcham High School, who has competed at the varsity level since seventh grade. “I just wasn’t totally expecting it.”
Mena won the uneven parallel bars on Thursday with a score of 9.6, tied for second on the floor exercise with a 9.575, was third on vault with a 9.35 and was fifth on the balance beam with an 8.95.
Mena advances to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association meet on March 2 at Smithtown East High School in St. James, Suffolk County. This is Mena’s fifth trip to the state meet and her second straight in the all-around, which she placed second in Section 1 last year.
“States is always fun, especially with the people on the (Section 1) team,” Mena said. “I know we’re going to have a great time.”
Wappingers coach Stephanie Sambuco was very proud of her top gymnast.
“It was awesome to see her put it all together,” Sambuco said. “It was a beautiful night for her and a great accomplishment.”
In the team competition, Division II champion Wappingers placed second to Division I champion Clarkstown. Clarkstown had 170.2 points to Wappingers’ 166.375.
“The team did a wonderful job. Sectionals is always a tough meet and every score counts,” said Sambuco, who was named the Section 1 Coach of the Year. “Alexis led us with her scores, her poise and her leadership.”
Clarkstown’s Shannon Berrigan was second in the all-around with a 37.075 and placed first on the balance beam (9.3). Carrie Wishner of Nyack was third with a 36.825. Nyack’s Amara Cunningham won the floor (9.6) and vault (9.675).
Also qualifying for Section 1’s entry at the state meet were Edgemont’s Isabella Puig, Somers’ Margaux Neborak, Eastchester’s Debbie Musselman, Pelham’s Taylor Sansone, Lakeland/Walter Panas’ Leanne Castelli, Mahopac’s Ashlee Belkevich and Melissa King, Carmel’s Brittani Muccio, Tappan Zee’s Shannin Lucas and Kaylie McGivney; and Clarkstown’s Olivia Blachno.
The meet was also noteworthy for those who couldn’t compete.
Defending all-around champion Alexa Calandra of Suffern had her petition denied by Section 1, which ruled she failed to compete in the required number of meets.
A petition by Brewster was denied by Section 1 because the Bears failed to compete in the section-mandated six meets. Brewster was scheduled to have their sixth meet against Carmel on Jan. 17, but the school district canceled activities that day to allow students to attend the wake of Michael Graham, an eighth-grader who died of a self-inflicted gunshot. Many on the team were Graham’s classmates.
Local Section 9 gymnasts who qualified for the state meet on Wednesday were a trio of New Paltz students: sophomore Michele Amado in the all-around, senior Brianna Dixon on the vault and sophomore Peppy Smith on the balance beam.