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Meets 3&4: Centaurs pull into 1st-place tie in ECC

After a season-opening loss to Killingly, the Woodstock Academy gymnastics team has now reeled off three straight wins and finds itself tied atop the Eastern Connecticut Conference regular season standings.

“It’s really exciting,” said Woodstock Academy coach Kasey Tocchio. “I think it’s pretty cool when the ECC is all kind of doing well together. It truly is, what team is putting out their best gymnastics on a given day. We’re all trying to shoot for that.”

The Centaurs, who posted a pair of wins over Stonington this past week, are now tied with Killingly atop the regular season standings as both teams own a 3-1 record.

They are scheduled to meet for a second time this season on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Deary’s Gymnastics in Danielson.

Killingly won the first meeting 129.65 – 129.1.

“(The Centaurs and Killingly) know they are neck-and-neck,” said Tocchio who serves as head coach for both programs. “We’re big on start values. It depends on what start values the kids have to determine what their (scoring) potential is. Start value-wise for the two teams are neck-and-neck. It’s that close. They just have to hit it, the two teams know that and it adds a little pressure to both of them.”

The Centaurs do come in with some momentum.

They bested Stonington on Thursday down by the shoreline 133.3- 131.9.

Killingly was also involved in that same meet and fell short to the Bears, 131.9-130.2, for its first loss of the season.

That meet was originally scheduled for Monday but was twice postponed by weather which pushed it to Thursday and meant the two teams met twice in three days.

Woodstock Academy also prevailed over the Bears, 133.65-125.45, on Saturday in its home gym at Deary Gymnastics in Danielson.

“I think mentally it’s tough on the girls to go back-to-back so close but we talked about it and it’s just a mental game at this point. It’s not a lot of gymnastics, they just mentally have to be there,” Tocchio said.

Killingly was also involved in that meet and, this time, downed the Bears 126.1-125.45 to also finish the week with a 3-1 record in the league.

Sophomore Olivia Aleman was the key for the Centaurs as she finished first in the All-Around competition in both meets.

On Thursday, she finished with a 37.05 total to lead the field.

That included a first-place finish in vault (9.2); a tie for first in beam (9.3); a second on the bars (9.2) and a third on the floor (9.35).

She bettered that routine at home, finishing first in the All-Around on Saturday with a 37.15 total.

Aleman was best on bars (9.4) which is important for the sophomore.

“Bars is her hardest event, personally, but she has really come along this year and is doing great,” Tocchio said.

Aleman was also best on beam (9.1); second on floor (9.4) and third on vault (9.25).

“She’s confident and just really leading the team. I’m happy for her. She is strong and healthy and doing really well,” Tocchio said.

Freshman Julia Kerr finished with an 8.6 on beam at Stonington to finish third overall and she followed that up with a third-place finish on both beam (8.75) and bars (8.8) on Saturday.

Sophomore Allie Boyd finished second-best in the All-Around on Saturday with a 30.45 for the Centaurs.

“Allie hasn’t been involved in gymnastics consistently year-round, but she is so talented. She has come to work this year, has put in a lot of effort, and did an upgraded floor routine that was beautiful. Julia Kerr is getting back to being a little healthier with her ankle so she did floor (Saturday) as well,” Tocchio said.

The scoring may not be as high as the Centaurs have enjoyed in past years as a team but it’s coming along with the pair of 133-plus totals.

“I think we can go higher,” Tocchio said. “I think the scoring was a little tight (Saturday) and I think we’re still counting some mistakes here and there.”

But, the Centaurs have turned the corner.

Not only did they post the two wins over Stonington, they scored better than Killingly, even though they were not scoring against their gym mates.

“They have pulled it together and come together as a team. It was a little rough at the start, but they have come together, figured it out, and it’s exciting to see,” Tocchio said.