MONTGOMERY – The pressure was on Red Bank Catholic going into the final rotation of Thursday’s NJSIAA gymnastics championship.
The Caseys delivered, and they have a second straight state team title to show for it.
With sophomores Nicolette DiPrisco and Ally Cucich leading the way, Red Bank Catholic edged Shore Conference rival St. John Vianney 112.925 to 112.650 for the trophy.
“Last year we were on a mission to win because we hadn’t win since 2002, but this year was almost harder because we had to defend the title, and there were some really good teams here,” Red Bank Catholic coach Ronanne DeRosa said. “The field was a little tougher than last year and we knew that coming in.”
St. John Vianney led by 28.35 points when the Red Bank Catholic took to the floor for the final rotation. Showing nerves of steel, the Caseys posted 28.625 with DiPrisco (a meet-best 9.750), Cucich (9.450) and Tara Zeni (9.425) doing the scoring.
“It was just excitement; I really didn’t get nervous,” DiPrisco said. “We all knew what we needed to accomplish our goal. We accomplished what we knew we could do.”
A roar went up from the green and gold after DiPrisco’s routine. They knew that did it.
“Her floor is so beautiful,” DeRosa said. “She really pulled through for us.”
So did Cucich, who was a key part of last year’s title. Her all-around score of 37.900 ranked third in the competition, behind St. John Vianney’s Kristen Politz (38.375) and Ramapo’s Samantha Marion (38.050).
“Ally is always our rock,” DeRosa said. “She’s very consistent. I really don’t think she had a bad meet all year long, which is pretty amazing.”
Sierra Garcia (36.825 all-around) also fared well for Red Bank Catholic. So did Tara Mills.
“It’s honestly the best feeling in the world,” Cucich said. “We’ve been working so hard this year and it shows our hard work paid off.”
Moments after the team accepted the trophy, posed for photos and let out a triumphant cheer, Cucich was asked the big question: Which title was sweeter?
She went with the latter.
“It feels amazing, representing our school like this,” she said. “Honestly I am speechless right now because I am so proud of every single one of my teammates. We all pulled through.”
Team scores: 1. Red Bank Catholic 112.925; 2. St. John Vianney 112.650; 3. Colts Neck 110.800; 4. Hillsborough 110.725; 5. Ramapo 109.250; 6. Ridgewood 108.425; 7. Bishop Ahr 107.900; 8. Ocean Township 105.725; 9. Washington Township 105.250; 10. Howell 105.025.
Staff writer Jerry Carino: firstname.lastname@example.org.