Lakeland/Panas gymnast Stephanie Cataliotto has been a source of consistency for the Rebels, as she led the team to a second-place finish at the Division 2 Championships at Dutchess County Gymnastics Center on Tuesday. Only two-time defending Section 1 champ Clarkstown placed higher.
At the beginning of the season, Lakeland/Panas coach Sorin Cepoi was looking for senior captain Michelle Davis to be a major asset to the team’s success. But in the Rebels’ first meet, Davis injured her ankle and was sidelined for the remainder of the year.
Initially, Davis’ savvy and skill-set seemed irreplaceable, but Cataliotto has helped save the season for Cepoi. The sophomore made her return to the team after missing an entire year and has been solid in Davis’ absence.
“She’s filled the role for Michelle the best that she could and has done a nice,” Cepoi said.
Cataliotto missed last season due to neck and back injuries she suffered during a club gymnastics meet when she flew off the uneven bars. Soon after the injury, Cataliotto wasn’t sure if she was ever going to compete in gymnastics again.
Not being able to compete with her teammates was painful during her rehabilitation.
“It was scary because I put 12 years into gymnastics,” Cataliotti said. “To watch it all disappear it was really heartbreaking for me.”
Once her doctor told her she could start working out, she began training at home and did physical therapy. Teammate Leanne Castelli witnessed Cataliotto’s struggle to get back on the team and said she couldn’t be more proud for her.
“It’s amazing,” Castelli said of Cataliotto’s journey. “When she told me she was getting back I was like, ‘Wow.’
“I didn’t think she would get back to where she is. She did, and that’s hard to do in gymnastics.”