Centaurs finish 3rd in New England
It was a fitting way for the four seniors on the Woodstock Academy gymnastics team to leave the stage – with another trophy.
It wasn’t the biggest one.
The Centaurs weren’t expecting that.
But it was a team performance that carried the Centaurs to a third-place finish Saturday at the New England gymnastics championship at Hudson High School in Hudson, MA.
“It was definitely awesome,” Woodstock Academy senior Ali Crescimanno said. “We’ve gone from winning (at home in 2017) to getting sixth (last year at Pinkerton Academy in N.H.) to getting third as a team. It was just so great to end this way. Everyone had such a great meet. We didn’t have to count any falls (Saturday).”
The Centaurs had heard rumors coming into the meet that the two Massachusetts teams were putting up big scoring numbers.
Those rumors were quickly found to be accurate when defending champion, the Bridgewater-Raynham-West Bridgewater cooperative program from Massachusetts posted a 37.250 team score in its first event, the vault.
Massachusetts state champion, Newton South, which went second in the rotation, followed that up with a 36.95 team total.
The Centaurs knew what they were in for.
“They have some awesome gymnasts and I’m super-happy to see that. When you have teams like that, there is not much you can do except do your best,” Woodstock Academy coach Kasey Tocchio said.
In essence, the New England gymnastics championship became a larger version of the state championship in Connecticut for the Centaurs.
Don’t worry about individual scores, focus on the team accomplishments.
“We really just wanted to place better than we did last year and we did that as a team,” senior Lydia Taft said.
The Centaurs posted their third-best scoring effort of the season, a 144.5.
Newton South finished with an impressive 149.3 total while Bridgewater-Raynham-West Bridgewater put together a 147.875 effort.
“I’m really excited about that,” Tocchio said of the third-place finish. “Watching the meet (Saturday), seeing the two teams that were really big, third is awesome.”
“We definitely knew that seeing the other team’s scores, we knew we hadn’t quite got there yet, but we just wanted to the best we could, even if it wasn’t first,” Taft said.
Tocchio couldn’t stop smiling after the meet.
“Let’s talk about beam,” she said.
It’s something the Woodstock Academy coach didn’t necessarily want to do after the State Open competition just three days prior.
“We all stayed on beam and that was so exciting. It was really exciting to see how we pulled together and did what we really wanted to do,” Tocchio said.
The Centaurs finished with a 36.245 total on beam with junior Jenna Davidson leading the way with a 9.4.
“We were so happy with beam. We all hit our routines, got good scores. I don’t if we have all made our beam routines (in the same meet) this year so far. We were all happy after that,” Taft said.
Taft finished with 9.3 with fellow seniors, Maddie Grube, (9.275) and Abby Vaida (8.3) also scoring.
Tocchio said Grube's performance on beam was the highlight for her on Saturday.
Grube struggled on it, normally one of her best events, at the Open.
“I was pretty proud of myself,” Grube said. “I fell twice at State Open so to come back and really nail it was amazing.”
Taft finished best in the All-Around competition for the Centaurs.
The senior finished with a 36.6.
“I was happy with how I competed. The State Open didn’t go as well for me. This meet, I really picked it back up,” Taft said.
Taft finished best in the bars where she put together a 9.35 performance, good for sixth overall in the competition. She was 12th in the beam, tied for 22nd in the vault (9.0) and tied for 37th on the floor (8.95).
Crescimanno tied for 13th in the All-Around with a 36.15.
The senior tied for fourth in the bars with a 9.475; tied for 11th in the vault with a 9.3; finished in a tie for 13th on the floor with a 9.3, and scored 8.075 on beam.
Crescimanno anticipated that this was not going to be a normal day on the podium for the Centaurs.
“High school gymnastics has come so far over the years and it just keeps getting better and better every year. It’s awesome to see the big gymnastics in the postseason. It’s cool to watch,” Crescimanno said.
Davidson added a 9.3 on the floor (tied for 13th place overall), an 8.725 on the vault and an 8.525 on the bars to finish with a 35.95 total, good for 15th in the All-Around scoring.
It was the last time that seniors Crescimanno, Grube, Taft and Vaida compete with the Centaurs as a team.
“It’s definitely sad,” Crescimanno said. “It’s been a crazy, even more, than four years. I’ve been doing (gymnastics) for so long. For this to be like, an ending point, it’s pretty cool.”
Grube said, while it may be the last time the team competes as a whole this season, there is still one more meet on the horizon.
“We don’t think of it as an ending yet because we have Senior Nationals, but it’s sad to be ending with all of these girls. Still, we’re pretty happy with how it went,” the senior said.
Another State Open title for Centaurs
The trophies just continue to pour in for the Woodstock Academy gymnastics program.
The Centaurs already finished with another spotless regular season, won their 10th straight Eastern Connecticut Conference championship and ninth straight Class S championship.
On Wednesday, the Centaurs added another plaque to the collection.
They won their seventh Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference State Open championship in the last eight years, 142.475 – 135.350, over Fairfield-Ludlowe High School at New Milford High School.
“We were working for it all season, losing last year, coming back this year. It was really amazing for all of us, especially the seniors. We’re pretty proud of ourselves,” senior Maddie Grube said.
The State Open was the one that got away from the Centaurs last year when they lost to Greenwich.
Woodstock Academy coach Kasey Tocchio said it was special to take back the State Open plaque despite what she described as an “interesting” day.
“We started out strong and there were a lot of good plusses (Wednesday). Even though, individually, everybody didn’t put it together for themselves. We still had some good routines in there,” Tocchio said.
The Centaurs showed Tocchio what they were capable of earlier in the season when they finished with a 146.85 score in the opening meet against Norwich Free Academy and the Killingly Cooperative.
“We haven’t really come close to that since,” senior Ali Crescimanno said. “We’ve hit 143 quite a few times, but we’ve been stuck there. We just need to hit our routines, hit our bonus and not count so many mistakes. If we do that, we can get right back up there.”
Since that first meet, the highest Woodstock Academy has scored is a 144.8 on Feb. 11, again against Killingly.
“I don’t think we’ve had our best day,” Tocchio said. “I think our first meet of the season kind of showed where we could go, but we haven’t really got back there yet. I think we can put it all together and really hit big.”
It looked like that possibly could be the case early at New Milford.
The Centaurs started on vault and Crescimanno finished with a 9.425 routine. Emily Arters finished with a 9.1, Lydia Taft a 9.0 and Grube an 8.9 to give them a 36.475 total as a team.
But things unraveled a bit on bars.
Taft (9.05) and Jenna Davidson (8.75) didn’t have the best bar routines.
Crescimanno again performed well, leading the team and finishing best in the field with a 9.5.
Crescimanno finished with a 36.0 individual total, second to Merritt Stevenson of Trumbull who won the individual All-Around with a 36.3 score.
“My first three events went well,” Crescimanno said. “My beam routine (8.7) was the best I’ve done all season.”
Crescimanno was in the lead going into the final event, the floor, but fell and finished with an 8.375.
She wasn’t the only one with foibles.
Taft and Grube both suffered through tough beam routines and finished with 8.45 and 7.35 totals respectively.
“We had some mistakes on every event. I’m going to go back into the gym on Friday and really clean that up,” Grube said.
Those miscues kept things interesting among the team members.
“It was neck-and-neck between (Crescimanno and Davidson) because one would be off and the other would hit a good one. I really want to see all three of them (with Taft) have an awesome meet and see what happens. They are all so high-scoring and we haven’t really put it all together yet,” Tocchio said. “Hopefully, they can figure it all out. All three of them need to keep taking care of their bodies.”
Davidson, the ECC champ, finished third in the State Open with a 35.875 total. She was best on the beam with a 9.3.
Taft placed fifth with a 35.475 total.
It was a weird week for the Centaurs and for everyone involved in gymnastics.
Because of one of the few snowstorms of the season, the State Open was postponed from Saturday to Wednesday.
The Centaurs had a light workout on Tuesday and will have another light workout on Thursday before a Friday practice.
Woodstock Academy will be headed on to its final meet of the season, the New England championship, on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Hudson, MA.
“It’s definitely tough. We usually have a week in between so having just one practice (Friday) is going to be a little rough, but I think we’re ready for it,” Grube said.
Centaurs win 9th straight state title
The Woodstock Academy Centaurs gymnastics team kept its impressive state title streak going when it captured the Class S state championship at Jonathan Law High School in Milford on Saturday night.
The Centaurs easily defeated runners-up, Stonington, 143.5 - 130.675.
Daniel Hand High School of Madison was third at 129.825.
It was the seventh consecutive Class S state championship for the Centaurs and ninth overall for the program which started its state title runs with a pair of Class M state championships.
"It's so special," said senior Lydia Taft. We feel the pressure to do it, but we enjoy keeping the tradition going."
Woodstock Academy lived up to its billing.
It was heavily favored going into the competition.
The Centaurs were seeded 10 points better than the Bears.
"We don't really look at the numbers, we just want to go in and do our best. We know things can happen," Taft said.
The Centaurs won all four events, scoring a 37.4 in the vault; a 35.7 on the floor; 35.5 on the bars and 34.9 on the beam.
It was the vault, their first routine of the competition, that had Woodstock Academy coach Kasey Tocchio’s charges a little uptight.
“We struggled mentally with the vault last year and the girls were a little nervous going into it,” Tocchio said. “The hard landing was a little different than what they are used to at their home gym so it gets in their head a little bit.”
The Centaurs had little to worry about.
“They were so amazing. It was the best turnout we’ve done in a while on vault,” Tocchio said.
Taft led the way with a 9.45 but it was Emily Arters with a 9.2 that impressed Tocchio.
“Her vault only comes out of a (possible) 9.4. She did an awesome job,” Tocchio said.
The state class championships do not include an individual titlist, it is a team-only event.
Taft was also best in the beam (9.2) and floor (9.3) for the team while fellow senior Ali Crescimanno was best in bars at 9.6.
“Lydia really rocked it in all four events,” Tocchio said. “Ali is dealing with an injury and we’re trying to keep her healthy right now. Abby (Vaida) and Maddie (Grube) are really bringing it together for the team. Carla (Simal) did floor and that was really exciting to see her out there.”
The Centaurs were hoping to put together a better performance than what they had at the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship.
Tocchio said, in some ways, they accomplished that.
“We still struggled a little on beam. We still are trying to nurse some injuries and some end-of-season things. I feel like next weekend and the weekend after, we can kind of pull it all together,” Tocchio said.
The Centaurs do have something to shoot for next weekend.
Greenwich defeated Woodstock Academy in last year's State Open championship and the Centaurs would like that title back when they compete at New Milford High School Saturday.
"We're looking forward to it," Taft said. "It's a huge goal especially after last year when we had the streak going (six in a row) and we came in second. It was fine, but we're really looking forward to going back and winning again."
The Centaurs will have the target on their backs at the Open.
Woodstock Academy is seeded almost six points better than Greenwich (137.95), the Class LL state champ.
The Centaurs will compete in the New England championship the following weekend.
Centaurs make it 10 straight
The Woodstock Academy gymnastics team has been led all season by seniors Lydia Taft and Ali Crescimanno.
A new face emerged on Wednesday.
Junior Jenna Davidson stepped into the spotlight and it may have been a good thing she did.
Davidson captured the Eastern Connecticut Conference gymnastics championship individual title and led the Centaurs to their 10th straight league title with a 142.8 – 133.65 win over the Killingly cooperative program at Deary’s Gymnastics in Danielson on Wednesday.
“We had some mistakes (Wednesday) and it was kind of lucky for me that I had two good events. It probably won’t happen again, but it’s nice. It does feel good. I never thought I would win, I was just hoping for top three or top five,” Davidson said.
Indeed, the Centaurs were reeling a little bit after the bars competition.
Everything looked like it was going to be another normal night for Woodstock Academy following the vault competition.
Four Centaurs, Crescimanno (9.35), Taft (9.25), Davidson (9.2) and Emily Arters (9.0), all reached or cleared the 9.0 mark and the Centaurs posted a 36.8.
The beam, however, tested their mettle.
The first three Centaurs all fell or missed on their routines and scored under 8.0. Davidson began the recovery with an 8.6 but Taft finished with a lower-than-normal 8.85. Crescimanno salvaged things with a 9.5.
“Coach (Kasey Tocchio) talked to us after and said we looked nervous. I think that played a part in it. There were a lot of dumb mistakes that we never do in practice and definitely don’t do in meets,” Crescimanno said.
Tocchio thought the “big” number, 10 consecutive ECC titles, was a burden on her Centaurs.
“The nerves came (Wednesday),” Tocchio said. “We’re always asked, ‘Do we feel the pressure?’ and my answer is always, ‘No.’ I said, ‘You guys kind of felt the pressure (Wednesday).’ It was uncharacteristic of them but we’re going to chalk it up as we got it out of our system and we can move on. We’ve really had a very successful season.”
The bad news didn’t stop at the bars.
The beam was equally tough with only Davidson pulling out a 9.2 finish. Taft had to settle for an 8.3 when she, uncharacteristically, slipped off during her routine.
“I was definitely frustrated after I fell the first time and I needed to forget about it and keep going and I couldn’t do that,” Taft said.
Going into the final routine, the floor, the Centaurs, as a team, led Killingly by just over 3 ½ points.
The individual title, however, was certainly up for grabs.
Tourtellotte’s Kiera O’Brien and Putnam’s Maggie McKeon, both of whom compete for the Killingly cooperative program, were sitting 1-2 atop the individual competition. O’Brien had a 27.45 and McKeon a 27.3 while Davidson sat at 27, Crescimanno 26.65 and Taft 26.4.
“It was anyone’s game,” Tocchio said. “These kids work so hard. They like to be with each other in work outs and competitions.”
Tocchio coaches both teams and both work out at her gym.
Fortunately for the Centaurs, both O’Brien and McKeon opened the door on bars as O’Brien scored an 8.4 for a 35.85 total and McKeon an 8.25 to finish at 35.55.
Davidson only needed an 8.6 or better to eclipse her two Killingly competitors.
She finished with a 9.5 on floor.
“That was big. Then, Lydia went 9.6 and those were definitely higher than normal,” Davidson said.
But Davidson had enough of a cushion to hold off her teammate, winning by 36.5 to 36.0 score.
“I’ve been feeling more confident than normal. Bars were a little rough, but I wasn’t really shaken up by it and I normally am. It was good to come back and I feel like everybody felt like that. After bars, we were able to come back and that was nice to see for future meets,” Davidson said.
Tocchio didn’t think the Davidson victory was a surprise.
“Jenna has snuck in toward the end of the season and we knew she could do it. She has the talent, has the potential and it’s really helped our team,” Tocchio said.
For Taft, it was not what she was hoping for.
She had scored a 37.25 in the final regular season meet against Killingly on Monday which the Centaurs (8-0, 6-0 ECC) also won, 144.8 – 131.6.
That meet, just two days before, may have taken a little something out of Woodstock Academy.
“It was definitely not my best meet,” Taft said of the ECC championship performance. “There are always things to fix and it happens. I’m not mad about it. I just have to get back in and fix it. It was a different feeling out there. Two meets in a row was rough. I guess you just have good days and bad days.”
Senior Maddie Grube tied for third on the beam with an 8.85 while Abby Vaida was fourth in the floor with a 9.3.
The Centaurs now move on to the state championship meet next weekend followed by the State Open championship and the New England championship.
“This is kind of like a wakeup call for these next three big meets coming up. We just need to continue to do what we’ve been doing to get the score we want,” Crescimanno said.
Woodstock Academy will be the top-ranked team when it competes for the Class S state championship next Saturday at Jonathan Law High School.
Tocchio is just hopeful that the Centaurs got the “sillies” out.
“We finally will be able to get a little rest for them. Monday is a holiday so we will give them the day off and give their bodies some rest. The seniors need it a little bit. Then, we will have some training days and a meet on the weekend. Same thing the following week so it kind of gets us into a pattern. High school season is a lot for them. We had a meet Monday and then another on Wednesday, the next couple of weeks is actually kind of nice for them,” Tocchio said.
The number is not quite as big for the state championship as it was for the ECC championship.
The Centaurs will “only” be seeking their ninth consecutive state title next weekend.
WA wraps up regular season
The Centaurs (8-0, 6-0 ECC) completed an undefeated regular season with a 144.8 - 131.6 victory over the Killingly/Putnam/Tourtellotte cooperative at the home gym for both schools, Deary’s Gymnastics in Danielson.
Senior Lydia Taft tuned up for the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship on Wednesday with her best score All-Around score of the year, 37.25, to lead the Centaurs.
Taft was best in all four events, winning the vault (9.55), floor (9.45), bars (9.4) and beam (9.3).
Ali Crescimanno (36.45) was second in the All-Around, Jenna Davidson (36.0) third.
The Centaurs will be shooting for their 10th straight ECC championship Wednesday.
Centaurs roll to win over Stonington
Woodstock Academy coach Kasey Tocchio remembers what it was like when she was competing in gymnastics at Killingly High School.
She and Justine Basley were constantly battling for the top spot in most competitions.
“It makes for a really good team, a really good team atmosphere. I feel like it makes everyone closer which is kind of funny because you are competing and it’s neck-and-neck, but it really does make the team better because you are just pushing each other,” Tocchio said.
The Centaurs have that same kind of dynamic this season with seniors Lydia Taft and Ali Crescimanno.
The two finished 1-2 on Monday at Deary’s Gymnastics and led Woodstock Academy to a 143.95-131.5 win over Stonington. The Killingly cooperative also defeated the Bears, 132.9-131.5 to take over second place in the Eastern Connecticut Conference.
Taft finished with a 36.75 all-around performance, just three-tenths of a point better than Crescimanno who put together a 36.45 all-around score.
“I don’t even feel the competition between us in the meets,” Taft said. “We root each other on and want the best for each other. I don’t feel like when I’m competing, I’m going against her. She’s my teammate and I want her to do well and whatever happens, happens.”
Taft has a nickname on the team.
Former head coach and volunteer assistant Robin Deary–Fillmore calls her “The Comeback Kid.”
That’s because Taft missed all but one meet last season, the New England Open championship, due to a back problem.
“I’m really happy to be back and I’m pleased with how I’m doing,” Taft said. “I’m doing better than I expected. It was hard to come back but it’s so much fun competing with the team and I really missed it last year.”
The senior said she didn’t know the exact cause of the back problem, it has been diagnosed as a spinal problem probably brought about by overuse.
It’s not 100 percent and she still has to cut back on workouts and still goes to physical therapy to try and remedy the problem. It has not, however, hurt her competitive level.
“She had a rough year, a sad year, and we were all feeling for her because she is a kid who comes in here, works so hard and is such a good teammate. She wants it for everybody else,” Tocchio said.
Taft was tops in bars with a 9.2 and floor (9.55) en route to the All-Around top spot against Stonington. She was third best on vault with a 9.2 and second on the beam with an 8.8.
Crescimanno was best in vault at 9.45, second in bars (9.0) second on floor (9.4) and scored an 8.6 on beam.
“Me and Lydia really do motivate each other. We been together in the gym since we were so little and it’s been back-and-forth between the two of us, but it is so fun to compete against each other. It doesn’t really matter who wins,” Crescimanno said.
Senior teammate Maddie Grube was best on the beam with an 8.9 while Jenna Davidson was third in the All-Around with a 35.55 to help the Centaurs (6-0, 5-0 ECC) end just under 144 points.
“We had some silly falls so to make 140 with those falls that we counted, everyone did a really good job,” Tocchio said.
WA downs NFA again
Halfway through the season, Woodstock Academy senior Lydia Taft is still not 100 percent as of yet.
Her opponents, however, may question that.
The gymnast has been very consistent and led the Centaurs to their fifth consecutive victory Wednesday, 144.1 – 125.7 over Norwich Free Academy at Thames Valley Gymnastics.
“It’s really awesome to have her back,” said coach Kasey Tocchio said of the senior.
Taft missed all but one meet, the New England championship, last season due to back troubles.
“She is beyond hungry,” Tocchio said. “This is her senior year and for her to come back right where she left off just means the absolute world to her.”
Tocchio said Taft still is doing alternative training because of her back to keep her in the best shape possible and try to get her through the entire season.
“What she is doing right now is just remarkable,” Tocchio said.
Taft won the All-Around with a 36.95 total against the Wildcats. She also claimed first place in the beam (9.5) and the floor (9.4); was second in the bars (9.0) and tied for third with teammate Emily Arters (9.05) in the vault.
“I’m really excited about where she is at. I wouldn’t say shocked because I knew she had it in her. I’m just super-proud of how far she has come,” Tocchio said.
Taft is also not blowing away her teammates.
Fellow senior Ali Crescimanno was right behind her in Norwich with a 36.35.
Crescimanno was first in the bars (9.5) and tied Putnam’s Maggie McKeon for first in the vault (9.4). The Killingly-Putnam-Tourtelotte cooperative also competed against NFA and posted a 132.2-125.7 win over the Wildcats.
Tocchio said the interior competition is probably even more important than competition from the outside because of the consistency of the push between Taft and Crescimanno.
“It helps both of them. It’s kind of like when me and Justine (Basley) competed (at Killingly), it’s so awesome to have a teammate that is so close to you that way that you just keep pushing one another which is what they do and it helps the rest of our all-around performers; Jenna (Davidson), Maddie (Grube), and Abby (Vaida),” Tocchio said.
Vaida finished second in the beam (8.85) and third on the floor (9.2) in Norwich.
Vaida provided some needed points in the floor exercise last season, but Tocchio said she has improved in the other three events this season as well.
“With her and Maddie hitting, it just means the team score just keeps creeping up,” Tocchio said.
Arters has been doing a new vault which has also given the Centaurs’ point total a boost.
The Centaurs still have to improve a bit as the tournament season approaches.
Their 144.1 score was not the best of the season.
That occurred in their first meet at home against NFA when the Centaurs posted a 146.85 total.
“That first mark gave us a lot of hope as to how high we could go this year,” Tocchio said. “We feel we can get into the high 140’s. We’re still making little mistakes here-and-there. We were off on beam last night which we haven’t been all season. There is potential to keep growing.”
Centaurs make it four
Lydia Taft took first in the bars (9.05), beam (9.3), and floor (9.1) events to take first in the All-Around (36.25) and lead the Centaurs (4-0, 4-0 ECC) to a 139.8-121.45 win over the Old Lyme-East Lyme co-op Monday at Deary's Gymnastics in Danielson.
Woodstock Academy senior Ali Crescimanno was best in the vault (9.1) and took second in the All-Around (35.55).
Emily Arters was second in the vault (9.05) for the Centaurs while Maddie Grube was third in the bar competition (8.25).
Centaurs win third in a row
Lydia Taft took first place in the All-Around (35.2) for the Centaurs (3-0, 3-0 ECC) ahead of teammates Ali Crescimanno (34.25) and Jenna Davidson (33.9) as they defeated Stonington, 135.85 - 128.95 Thursday at Stonington High School.
Taft won the vault (8.65) competition, placed second in the beam (9.15) and floor (9.0) and third in the bars (8.4).
Crescimanno won the bars (9.25) and floor (9.1) events.
Davidson was best on the beam (9.35).
Maddie Grube was second in the vault with an 8.6 total .