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2022-23 Woodstock Academy gymnastics season preview

It’s a new year but the first question is always pretty repetitive for Woodstock Academy gymnastics coach Kasey Tocchio.

Can the Centaurs do it all over again?

Last year, Woodstock Academy captured its 11th straight state championship, this time in Class M, and 12th straight Eastern Connecticut Conference title.

Add to that, a CIAC State Open championship for a third time in five years and a third-place finish in New England.

It’s a tough act to follow.

But the Centaurs always seem to.

“I hope we can (repeat all that),” Tocchio said. “This year is a little tougher but we always seem to end up having some surprises.”

The good surprises first.

The Centaurs have a new gymnast, a sophomore from Mexico, Maitena Alvarez.

“She was a huge surprise at our information meeting. She hasn’t competed in a couple of years but has a higher level (gymnastics) background. She already is showing promise of being a helpful scorer for us so that is really cool,” Tocchio said.

She is not the only one.

Freshman Julia Kerr may also make an impact.

“She wasn’t sure she was going to come out or not. She is a high-level gymnast out of Rhode Island and I’ve known her and worked with her when she was little. So we’re really excited to have her and she should be a great scorer,” Tocchio said.

Of course, the big disappointment is senior Taylor Markley not being available.

Markley won the ECC and State Open individual titles and finished second in New England.

But she suffered a serious elbow injury in April and will not be available to compete again until probably March or April of 2023.

“It would have been a lot easier if she was ready,” Tocchio admitted. “I feel like we’re past feeling bad about it. It’s hard to keep going that way. It happened. It’s awful but everyone has to move on. She has taken on a different role and has committed to school (the University of Bridgeport) and is doing great in physical therapy. So we’re trying to take the wins, trying to move forward. We have hopes for the end of the season, maybe she will be able to do some things even if it is not high school (USA gymnastics is a possibility).”

The Centaurs also will be without sophomore Angelina Auger who tweaked her knee, was walking and felt fine, until she went for checkup.

“She tore a lot of stuff in (her knee). She bounces back pretty quick and comes in once a week just to hang out with the team. She says ‘nothing hurts, everything feels fine’ but she had major knee surgery,” Tocchio said.

That leaves senior Madison Martinez, sophomores Olivia Aleman, Allie Boyd, Livia Gerum and freshman Emma Long to fill out the roster.

Aleman finished third in the State Open championship last year with a 36.375 total and was also third in the ECC championship  and was sixth in New England.

“She is in a better spot. She was still coming back (from a back injury) last year and about halfway through the season, she was almost where she should be. She’s starting off this season in a way better spot and that’s going to be exciting. She should be that leader that we need on the team this year,” Tocchio said.

Aleman will be the front runner but everyone will have to do their part to keep the Centaurs’ streaks going.

Alvarez will not be available for the team’s first two meets as they will fall during winter break and she will be home in Mexico.

“I think our scores will go up with the third meet. It’s going to be interesting but I think we will be able to pull it out. Every year, I feel like we lose someone and we don’t know if we’re gaining a lot of people and what’s going to happen. But that first practice happens and it’s like ‘We’re OK. We can make this work.’”, Tocchio said with a laugh.