There was a moment that Holmdel junior Julianna Drapkin didn’t think she would be able to compete this season.
Separate injuries to both legs in the spring kept Drapkin in a wheelchair until June, but she healed in time to compete for the Hornets this fall and capped this season with the NJSIAA state individual all-around title.
“I broke my tibia on my left leg and I broke my ankle on my right foot right. I didn’t expect to compete this season,” Drapkin said. “That’s why when they said first place for me in the all-around at the state individual meet, I was crying. But I wasn’t crying because I won. I was crying because of everything I went through.
Drapkin saved her best performance of the season for Nov. 15.
She scored a 38.0 to win the NJSIAA state individual all-around title for the second time in her career. In 2012, she won the NJSIAA state individual all-around title as a freshman competing for Bishop Ahr. But on Nov. 15, she was the most consistent gymnast as she finished eighth in the vault (9.525), third on the bars (9.575), fifth on the beam (9.475), and seventh on the floor exercise (9.425).
“I didn’t expect to be up there (on the podium). I just wanted to hit my routines four-for-four and when I saw the scores after two events. I was like wow maybe I have a chance to do this,” Drapkin said of her performance in the NJSIAA state individual meet on Nov. 15. “So, all the pressure was on floor. So, after I did my floor routine, I was so happy.”
Drapkin competed on bars first, then beam, then floor and ended her rotation on vault on Nov. 15. Holmdel coach Liz Porter was impressed with Drapkin’s toughness this season.
“What impresses me about Julianna is how really tough, determined and resilient she can be. She’s also a fierce team player. She showed up at a meet early in the season ready to go. She admitted her sinuses were really painful. I noted that she was a bit warm and had reddened eyes so I told her to go home,” Porter said. “She immediately said, ‘I don’t want to let the team down…I can compete.’ I sent her home but halfway through the meet I got a text saying, ‘I’m heading to the doctors, but I can come back and compete when I’m done if you need me to’.”
At the Shore Conference meet on Nov. 1, Drapkin finished 13th on bars (8.8) and tied for eighth on beam (9.275). At the NJSIAA Central I sectional on Nov. 8, Drapkin finished fifth in the all-around (37.2) to qualify for the NJSIAA state individual meet. She got to 37.2 on that day with a fifth-place finish on vault (9.425), an 11th-place finish on bars (8.8), a third-place finish on beam (9.5), and a second-place finish on floor (9.475).
“The first thing you have to understand about Julianna is that she’s the whole package. She’s strong, flexible and fearless. In other words, she very naturally talented. She has done gymnastics since she was a baby and it has worked out well for her because she does have so much natural innate talent. It also helps that she’s mentally tough and fiercely determined,” Porter said. “She’s been through a lot, so I just couldn’t push her. I wanted her to determine what kind of season she would have. Julianna is one of the best gymnasts in the state because that’s what Julianna decided to be this season.”
Drapkin’s individual resume now includes two NJSIAA State Individual All-Around titles (2014, 2012) and two Greater Middlesex Conference Championship all-around titles (2012 and 2013).
Staff writer Sherlon Christie: email@example.com