The Warwick Vets gymnastics team came close to its biggest win of the season on Saturday against West Warwick. Instead, the Hurricanes suffered their first loss, but they still left the gym feeling pretty good.
They know what needs to improve, and nothing that happened Saturday left them any less optimistic about their chances to qualify for the state meet.
“We were really happy,” said Vets head coach Angela Cidade. “We knew West Warwick was going to be tough competition from the beginning. They’re first in the division and they’re a very good team. We had a little bit of a tough time on beam today. But overall, the girls did well.”
Vets and West Warwick came in with matching 3-0 records. Their meet scores were comparable, but the Wizards held a slight edge. As Saturday’s meet unfolded, that edge held up. West Warwick totaled 129.5 points to 125.2 for Vets.
The weekend wasn’t a total loss for the ’Canes, though. Toll Gate also participated in Saturday’s meet, and Vets picked up a win there. The ’Canes also beat Exeter/West Greenwich on Sunday to improve to 5-1.
Vets currently sits in second place in Division II. A top-three finish would secure the program’s first-ever berth in the state championship.
“We’re feeling good,” Cidade said. “Right now, we’re a close second. We need to be top three so we still have a good chance.”
Since Saturday’s meet was their last one at home, the ’Canes honored seniors Kristen Hyle, Hannah Messier and Cassie Buteau before getting started.
“They all did great,” Cidade said. “Kristen competed all-around and qualified for A states on vault. Hannah competes in vault, bars and beam, and Cassie did one of her strongest bars routines of the season.”
Once they got going, the ’Canes put together a strong first event, scoring a 34.4 on the vault. Messier tallied an 8.1, Hyle notched an 8.3, Thalia Rivera-Ortiz had an 8.5 and freshman Candis Kowalik capped the performance with a 9.5.
Vets’ performance on vault was 1.1 points better than West Warwick’s, but in every other event, the Wizards had the edge. On bars, Kowalik had a 9.5 to lead the way, Hyle tallied a 5.98 and Buteau had a 5.5, but West Warwick had its top three all above seven and out-scored the ’Canes by almost three points.
On floor, Kowalik delivered a 9.45, Hyle had a 7.85 and Danielle Granata and Rivera-Ortiz each had a 7.7. The Wizards got an 8.7 from Rebecca Pacheco and edged the ’Canes by .3 points.
The ’Canes had hoped to make up some ground on the balance beam but didn’t have their best day in that event. Kowalik led the way with a 9.4, Megan Macrae tallied a 7.8, Michaela McNally had a 7.6 and Hyle scored a 7.5.
Led by Pacheco’s 8.8, West Warwick had its top four all score above eight and finished with 34.1 on beam to Vets’ 32.3.
“They do great at practice,” Cidade said. “I think it’s the toughest in meets. It’s definitely the most nerve-wracking. Once they have one fall, it kind of goes downhill from there because they get nervous. We’ll be doing lots of beam at practice.”
An improvement in beam will certainly help the cause as the ’Canes head down the stretch. They’ll go against North Smithfield on Wednesday before taking on West Warwick again on Sunday. Their final meet of the season is Feb. 12 against Mt. Hope and Toll Gate.
“We have a few more meets coming up that are going to be close, but that goal is still in sight,” Cidade said.
Toll Gate fell to 0-6 with the losses to Vets and West Warwick, but head coach Christy DeMelis saw the performance as a step in the right direction. The Titans had their highest team score since their season opener, and got improvements in nearly every individual score.
“We did very well, almost as well as our first meet,” DeMelis said. “We had struggled a little bit last meet, so it was a great confidence booster to get some solid scores today.”
Katie Favino had a big day for the Titans, setting a new personal best with an 8.5 on vault. She also led Toll Gate with a 7.8 on beam.
Molly Fox was Toll Gate’s top all-around scorer, netting a total of 30.65 points. Ashley Courtney also competed all-around and finished with 26.1 points. Amber Proulx added a 6.9 on vault, while Tiffany Meunier delivered a 6.2 on beam and a 6.45 on floor.
“Back on the right track,” DeMelis said. “Hopefully it can carry into the next couple of meets. They’re working hard and they’re improving. They’re doing a good job.”