MONTOMGERY – In its first season of competition, the St. John Vianney High School gymnastics team stuck the landing.
The Lancers took the top two spots at Saturday’s NJSIAA individual championships as senior Kristen Politz captured the all-around gold medal with a score of 38.525 and freshman Arianna Agrapides took second at 38.500.
The result capped a smashing debut campaign that included a narrow second-place finish behind Red Bank Catholic at Thursday’s state team meet.
“It’s amazing and it’s a great accomplishment to take back to the school,” Politz said. “Everyone should be really proud and hopefully this helps build the program for next year.”
The Penn State-bound Politz, who hails from Marlboro, did her part. She won the floor exercise with a score of 9.800, perhaps the top individual performance of the entire meet.
“I love floor. I’ve got a new routine and I love doing it,” she said. “My landings were pretty solid and I showed off my dance nicely. I like to put a performance on.”
Politz also took fourth on the balance beam (9.525) and tied for fifth in the uneven bars (9.475). Then it came down to the vault. She needed a 9.700 to match teammate Agrapides for the all-around crown.
“I knew what (score) I needed,” Politz said. “I had a little bit of pressure and it felt good. I like to know and I like pressure. I like to challenge myself.”
The second of her two vaults was the one that put her over the top with a 9.725 score. That tied for second-highest among all vaulters and, best of all, got her atop the all-around podium.
“It feels so good as a senior, to walk away being in first,” Politz said. “I’m really happy. This was a lot of fun.”
Agrapides was happy, too. In addition to taking second all-around, she tied for first in the bars with a 9.650.
“Usually bars isn’t my strong event,” the Bayville resident said. “I stuck my handstands and had a good dismount.”
Of the overall showing, she added, “It felt good to go 1-2 for SJV.”
The Shore Conference completed a clean sweep of the top three spots as Marlboro sophomore Melissa Astarita took third all-around with a 38.200. She also won the vault gold medal with a 9.750 effort.
“My first vault I did my easier vault to play it safe,” she said. “Second one I went for a harder vault and it was worth it in the end, obviously.”
Astarita also tied for second on the balance beam along with Neptune’s Chelsea Baker. Both scored 9.575. Red Bank Catholic’s Ally Cucich capped the Shore Conference’s memorable day with a fifth place all-around showing at 37.900.
All-Around: 1. Kristen Politz (St. John Vianney) 38.525; 2. Arianna Agrapides (St. John Vianney) 38.500; 3. Melissa Astarita (Marlboro) 38.200. 4. Samantha Marion (Ramapo) 37.950; 5. Ally Cucich (Red Bank Catholic) 37.900; 6. (tie) Sarah Pallay (Hillsborough), Ariyana Agarwala (Bishop Ahr) 37.725; 8. Sierra Garcia (Red Bank Catholic) 37.650; 9. Shannon Gregory (J.P. Stevens) 37.625; 10. Monica Servidio (Howell) 37.600.
Vault: 1. Melissa Astarita (Marlboro) 9.750; 2. (tie) Arianna Agrapides (St. John Vianney), Kristen Politz (St. John Vianney) 9.725; 4. Ally Cucich (Red Bank Catholic) 9.700; 5. Paige Rhoads (Cherokee) 9.625.
Uneven bars: 1. (tie) Arianna Agrapides (St. John Vianney), Ariyana Agarwala (Bishop Ahr) 9.650; 3. Natalie Onderko (Hillsborough) 9.625; 4. Kelsey Dwyer (Old Bridge) 9.500; 5. Alexandra Panetta (St. John Vianney) 9.475.
Balance beam: 1. Samantha Marion (Ramapo) 9.725; 2. (tie) Chelsea Baker (Neptune), Melissa Astarita (Marlboro) 9.575; 4. Kristen Politz (St. John Vianney) 9.525; 5. (tie) Abby Haley (Washington Township), Arianna Agrapides (St. John Vianney) 9.475.
Floor exercise: 1. Kristen Politz (St. John Vianney) 9.800; 2. Samantha Marion (Ramapo) 9.725; 3. Arianna Agrapides (St. John Vianney) 9.650; 4. Melissa Astarita (Marlboro) 9.600; 5. (tie) Ariyana Agarwala (Bishop Ahr), Sarah Pallay (Hillsborough) 9.575.
Staff writer Jerry Carino: firstname.lastname@example.org .