TONAWANDA – Section 1 showed both its depth and its top-end talent in the state championship meet on Saturday.
Nyack’s Amara Cunningham place first in the all-around, leading Section 1 to a third-place finish in the team standings at Kenmore West High School.
“It feels really great to come out and do this well,” she said. “We’re all good friends, we cheered each other on and we all tried our hardest.”
Cunningham, who scored 38.3 in the four events, became the first gymnast to place first in the state in all-around since Nanuet’s Taylor Redmond in 2011. Highlights for Cunningham included finishing first in floor exercise with 9.725, second on the vault with 9.75, and second on the bars with 9.425.
“Her vault was near perfect, although the score didn’t reflect it” said her coach, Jamie Winkler, who coached the Section 1 team along with Mahopac coach Vin Collins and Sasha Miretsky, her partner at Galaxy Gymnastics. “Her floor was the best she’s done all year and her bars were very good. I could hear everyone talk about how good she was.”
It wasn’t just Cunningham who stood out. Her good friend, East Ramapo’s Nalani Dollopac, placed fifth in the all-around with a 37.425. She had the second-highest score on the balance beam with a 9.55.
Not too bad for her first time competing at a high school state meet.
“I didn’t really know anything going in, but everyone talked me through it,” she said. “I’m so proud of everyone, we gave it our all. It was an amazing experience.”
Section 1, also featuring gymnasts from Clarkstown, Lakeland, Tappan Zee, Mahopac and Wappingers, had the highest score among all teams for the floor exercise and the second-highest score on the uneven bars.
In the floor exercise, Clarkstown’s Samantha Haber scored a 9.325 to finish in a four-way tie for 10th in the event.
Nyack High gymnast Amara Cunningham, from Section One, competes in the floor exercise at the New York State high school gymnastics championshipsÊat Kenmore West High School Feb.Ê28,Ê2015. Cunningham finished first overall with a score of 38.300.
On the bars, all six of the section’s competitors placed in the top 10, with no one scoring lower than a 9.1. Nyack’s Cassie Wishner tied for sixth in the event with a 9.3.
“I thought we were right up there,” Winkler said. “I think a lot of people were looking at our section and were really impressed.”
Lakeland’s Leanne Castelli, who was presented with a sportsmanship award before the meet started, competed for her fourth and final time at the event, despite battling an illness and having barely practiced leading up to the meet.
“It was a good six years and I’m going to miss it all, but it’s my time,” she said. “This team has girls from every grade, and the young girls have so much potential. I think Section 1 has a good chance of winning states in the next few years.”