Ariyana Agarwala of the Bishop Ahr gymnastics team came, saw and conquered — and as a freshman, no less.
She is the 2015 Home News Tribune Gymnast of the Year.
“She came in and was not only able to turn in the high level of gymnastics in her routines, but she was able to hit the big routines when it really counted,” coach Caitlin Miller said. “I think it’s hard when you know you have your team looking at you to put up a big score, but she was able to do it every single time.”
In a season that would have potentially been problematic for Bishop Ahr, Agarwala was one of the catalyzing forces that kept the Trojans along a winning path.
She stepped up as a leader in an underclassman-heavy team to propel the Trojans forward. To make matters more complicated, then-head coach Brant Lutska fell ill, which meant that assistant coach Miller had to unexpectedly take the helm for the season.
“I think Aryiyana was a huge contributor to our successes as a team,” Miller said. “Knowing that her routines are consistent and that she has confidence in herself — she really leads by example. She’s able to go up there calm and steady whether we put her third, fourth or fifth in the lineup, and it just gets the girls around her on the same page.”
None of the could-be Trojan problems fazed Agarwala, and her accolades prove it.
Prior to the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament, Bishop Ahr lost senior Sydne Powers to a broken hand. This is when Agarwala really had to step up, and step up she did.
She took first place in the GMC all-around, uneven bars, balance beam and floor routine and placed second in vault, and the Trojans placed first as a team after two seasons of being snuffed by Westfield.
“She stepped into that spot, and being strong and consistent for her team was not an easy thing to do, but she pulled it off really well,” Miller said.
At the NJSIAA North Group II sectional final, Agarwala placed first in the all-around along with bars and beam, while finishing second on vault. She also placed first on the bars at the NJSIAA championship meet.
“She’s absolutely breathtaking to watch,” Miller said. “She has these long, beautiful lines, which gives her bar and beam routines an extra spark, and plus she carries herself like a much older, refined gymnast.”
Watching Agarwala makes it hard to believe that she’s a freshman. She seems so accustomed to winning already that when she walks up to receive an award, she is very poised and under control, characteristics that are not easily found in someone who just left middle school.
With three more years in her high school campaign, she is sure to make more headlines.
“She’s going to continue to improve,” Miller said. “With such a successful freshman year, I think she’s going to use that to push even further in the future.”
Staff Writer Alyssa Davis: firstname.lastname@example.org
All-Around – Ariyana Agarwala, Bishop Ahr
Vault – Shannon Gregory, J.P. Stevens
Uneven Bars – Skylar Davisson, Bishop Ahr and Allison Graves, South Plainfield
Balance Beam – Kristi Maher, South Plainfield
Floor Exercise – Kelsey Dwyer, Old Bridge
At Large – Amanda DiBartolo, South Brunswick; Kayla Betz, Old Bridge; Daniella Izzo, South Brunswick; Samantha Obolsky, Bishop Ahr; Sydne Powers, Bishop Ahr; Gabrielle Skolnik, East Brunswick.
Coach of the Year – Caitlin Miller, Bishop Ahr
Sportsmanship – South Brunswick
Assistant Coach of the Year – Julia Thompson, Piscataway (Presented by the GMC Gymnastic Coaches)