Girls Varsity Gymnastics
Game Summaries & Headlines.
- Game Date
- Mar 8, 2019
Back to Back State Champions
Farmington United Gymnastics set out what it hoped to do by winning the Gymnastics State Championship this past Friday at Rockford High. It was the second year in a row for the United team. Farmington beat out Rockford by a score of 145.55 – 144.25.
Farmington was the first team to start off the entire meet on the balance beam. Beam is typically the event that decides gymnastics meets. Every fall is a .5 deduction. A team score is determined by adding the top four of five competitors in each event. The pressure to do well on beam, especially at a state meet is unbelievable, so starting on beam as the first event brings extra pressure. We always have Ava Farquhar go first as she has not fallen this season – she didn’t disappoint. That typically gives some confidence to the gymnasts that follow and the strategy worked as Kamini Playle, Shelby Smith, and Elena Vargo all stuck their routines to give the team a huge lift to start the meet.
Floor was the next event and the team again responded with all 5 routines hitting a 9.1 or higher. With high scores from Elena (9.6) and Kacey (9.5) the team felt good going into vault. After 2 events, Farmington was only .2 ahead of Livonia who competed on bars and vault. Rockford and Plymouth trailed by over a point.
Next up was the vault and this is where Farmington made their move as Elena Vargo hit a 9.8 on her layed - out yerchenko, Sydney Schultz posted a 9.5, Kacey Noseworthy a 9.3 and Ava hit a 9.1. The team total was a 37.7. It is very difficult to match this total. This score helped us to a more comfortable lead as we headed into bars. Rockford made their move by taking the highest team score on three events: bars, beam and floor, but could not match the 37.7 that FUG posted on vault. Vault made the difference this year as Rockford was a full 2 points behind in that event. Despite not winning another event, the solid scores from FUG held up and we earned another State title.
This State championship was different from last year. In 2018 it was much more emotional as we won by .2 on the last competitor of the entire meet. This year was harder as we were expected to win as we went undefeated in dual meets, we won all three major invitationals, and we won our regional meet. We were expected to win and that brings a different pressure. However, this is such a tough group of girls. They have proven themselves last year ( again going undefeated in dual meets) and again this year. The last time we won multiple championships was in 2004-2006. I remember thinking how good those girls were and how tough it was to accomplish that feat, but I see the same attributes in this core group of girls. I would like to give a shout out to the following gymnasts who all helped contribute to the teams success: Captains Kacey Noseworthy and Ava Farquhar, Elena Vargo, Shelby Smith, Sydney Schultz, Allison Schultz, and Kamini Plyle who all held their own and proved so tough under such pressure situations.
Also a shout out to coach Kim Mandrelle, assistant coaches Amanda Pechniuk and Nicole Daihl, who were all associated with championships in their own careers. Theydeserve a lot of credit for all their help and influence. They could all be head coaches with other teams with their abilities- I am lucky to work with them.
All year long I knew this group was special and I hated to see the season end, but we had one more day to compete in the individual championships held on Saturday. The gymnasts who compete on Friday are at a disadvantage as they are both physically and mentally tired from the previous night. We all talked the next morning about being extra tough as that is what it would take to place in the top ten of each event and thus becoming All- State on that event. The girls were awesome as they took home a lot of medals.
Elena Vargo placed 1st on every event but beam ( vault = 9.8, bars = 9.35, floor = 9.6, beam (8th place) = 9.25). Her 38.00 all-around score was 1.3 points higher than her nearest competitor enabling her to become the Division I All- Around Champion – the hardest event to win in gymnastics as it takes strong performances on each event. The 1.3 difference over 2nd place is a huge difference in gymnastics and it indicates how accomplished she is as a gymnast. She is so powerful and beautiful to watch. Many spectators came up to me during the competition and made several comments about her performances. She again hit 9.8 on vault for the second day in a row. I am so glad that she decided to try high school gymnastics. During the season I bet her a new water bottle if she ever hit a 9.8 – Didn’t think it would happen twice!
The team was very successful in the Division II competition. It is so difficult to place in the all-around as a gymnast must be good on all four events. I was so impressed that Kacey Noseworthy, Ava Farquhar, and Sydney Schultz all placed in the top 10.
Senior captain Kacey Noseworthy placed 2nd in the all-around competition with a 36.2. This was one place higher than in 2018 in which she was third place – quite the career. Kacey won the floor exercise ( 9.4), placed 2nd on vault (9.3), and 4th on beam (8.8). Kacey has been a gamer her entire career. An incredible athlete who always goes full out to win. She gives her heart and soul every practice and every meet. You can often hear her grunting in the way a football player grunts when they hit another player – yet Kacey does this as she attacks each event! These gymnasts are somewhat rare and it shows in the end. I am so proud of the strides she has made in her career. She was also the recipient of the “Senior-of-the-year” award which comes with a $1000 scholarship. It was such a great sight to see those big crocodile tears as she received such a tremendous award- what a way to end a career.
Much of the same can be said of senior captain Ava Farquhar. She is often the hardest worker in the gym. Despite nagging back injuries, Ava is able to grind out big routines. Her mental prowess is unmatched. Her favorite saying is “fake it until you make it”. Her strong desire with this attitude has helped her become one of the best all-arounders in the state placing 4th with a 35.60. This was her highest score of her career and it could not have come at a better time. She had not fallen all season on beam and continued that streak placing 7th (9.075) on beam. She placed 3rd on floor with her season high 9.2. She was in so much pain during vault (9.05 7th place) that I could see it in her eyes as she went to her last event, the uneven bars, and again hit a very solid routine. I always tell the girls to keep going- no pain, no tiredness- in order to do well in the all-around. Ava responded in such a huge way – I am so proud of her. She willed herself to win this entire season- what a legacy.
Sydney Schultz came up big in her sophomore year. I like the fact that she will be around for another two years as she has really stepped up and improved her game this year. She just learned a tucked tsukahara vault this year and increased it’s value by doing it in the piked position only two weeks ago. Although much harder to do, she learned it quickly and it payed off on Friday’s team competition (9.5) and on Saturday in the individual completion ( 9.3 3rd place). Sydney placed 9th on bars (8.55) and 6th in the all-around with a 35.55. I am learning that Syd is also a gamer. It doesn’t matter how warm-ups or practices go, she seems to respond in a big way when it matters most. She did this last year as a freshman in which she saved us on the uneven bars with a big score. She did it this year on vault and bars. The look in her eyes changes when things don’t go her way, but you would never know it by her performances. I’m glad I have another two year.
Freshman Kamini Playle is proving herself early in nher career. Kamini has the ability to make the sport look good. She started off strong during the season, especially on beam and floor. She seemed to lose some confidence towards the end of the season, especially on beam. We had her in the top 5 competitors on beam for our first two invitationals and she had a hard time so we went with another gymnast in the last invitational. However, the light bulb went on and Kamini placed high on beam in the regional competition. She had to prove herself in practice the week prior to the state meet and we decided to go with the unexperienced, spirited freshman. Kamini responded as if there was no pressure at all and nailed her routine on beam during the team competition and during individuals placing tied for 2nd with a 9.2. I believe this will go a long ways as to what her career can become if she keeps it up.
To do what we did the last two years has been special. It takes a core group of individuals to make it happen. Seniors Kacey Noseworthy, Ava Farquhar, and Shelby Smith have been strong leaders the past two years. Sophomores Sydney Schultz and Allie Schultz were also instrumental as freshman and this year. The work ethic and determination of this group over the past two years is a key reason for two undefeated seasons and two back/back State Championships.