Olivia Frederick has been here before — and beyond. The Wappingers gymnast dedicates more than five hours each day to practice and has performed at the highest level of state competition.
In fact, the John Jay High School junior dazzled in a the Section 1 Division II meet earlier this week.
But entering the sectional championships on Thursday, in which she will be among the favorites, Frederick admits she is nervous.
“Every skill you do has to be perfect,” she said. “Every tenth (of a point) counts, and you can’t mess up on anything.”
Butterflies weren’t much of a hindrance Monday, when Frederick won the Division 2 all-around title, her second straight, and earned a berth to the sectional finals for a four consecutive year. The Wappingers team, too, qualified for sectionals, to be held at Carmel High School, after narrowly being edged for first on Monday by Mahopac,168 to 165.8.
The success has come after a somewhat tumultuous offseason in which former Wappingers coach Stephanie Kelly-Sambuco was arrested in July and replaced by Kim Vidulich.
“It would be amazing if our whole team could win,” said Frederick, a level 9 gymnast who has reached the state tournament individually the previous three years. “We haven’t won as a team in a long time, so it would be special. I think we all want that so badly, so I think everyone is kind of nervous.”
If the nerves were at all shaky, it didn’t manifest in a shaky performance on Monday. Frederick totaled a 37.525, the highest all-around score at the meet. That includes taking first in the floor exercise (9.55) and the uneven bars (9.4). She took second on the vault (9.3) and balance beam (9.25). She improved on her winning all-around score of 36.175 from last year.
Wappingers, a combined team of gymnasts from John Jay and Roy C. Ketcham high schools, includes Kiara O’Meara, Jessica Healey, Kara Vidulich, Taylor Healey, Chey Sura, Lexi Barlanti and Kristina Van Anden.
Kelly-Sambuco led Frederick’s scholastic team and also had been her club coach since she was 6 years old. Frederick switched clubs over the summer and joined Dynamic Gymnastics in Mohegan Lake, about 25 miles away from her home.
Frederick, emotional as she spoke, said her relationship with Kelly-Sambuco had long been tenuous and the change came as a relief. Vidulich, she said, “is really nice” and she has grown close to her new club coach, Sorin Cepoi, who is also the Lakeland/Walter Panas/Putnam Valley high school coach.
The change has come with an increased practice regimen. Frederick trains six days a week. After school, there are two-hour practices with her Wappingers team. She then heads to Dynamic for an additional 3½ hours of work. Typically, she said, she doesn’t arrive home until about 9 p.m., by which time she’s “really, really tired.” And then, homework is done.
With maturity and the extra practice, new skills have been developed and improved. That includes a back tuck-arm switch on the beam.
Of the amount of time she dedicates to gymnastics, Frederick said, “I’ve been doing it since I was little and I just fell in love with the sport. Early on, I just enjoyed it but I wasn’t competitive. But as I got older, I realized I can be pretty good and get far with it, that made me want to get better.”
Stephen Haynes: email@example.com, 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4