by Andrew Garda
The Montclair High School gymnastics team took on Wayne Hills on Thursday, Sept. 27, winning the match 101.7 to 88.4.
First year head coach Amie Bassarab was very pleased with the way her gymnasts competed, especially since there has been so much disruption for them.
As with the rest of MHS, the gymnasts saw the beginning of their school year disrupted by the collapse of a stairwell in the building, which resulted in the school’s closure for several days and limited access for some time.
“We had a rough start in the beginning with practices and a lot of them had to be canceled at the beginning of our season,” Bassarab said. “So we’ve been working with the practices we have, trying our best and we’ve been having a really good season so far.”
Despite the shaky practice schedule, the team has continued to push themselves, including adding new pieces to the routines for the Wayne Hills meet, specifically on the balance beam.
“We just added some new skills in a lot of our girl’s beam routines,” Bassarab said. “So, we were working with that and they hit them pretty well, so it really made a difference in our scores today and their confidence level.”
Both teams did well during vault, with Wayne Hills edging MHS out 25.6-25.5. The Mounties were able to gain little distance on Wayne Hills during the uneven bars, scoring 24.4 to the opposition’s 16.9.
Naja John (8.0), Vicki de la Rosa (7.7) and Amelia Tuchmann (8.7) led the way during that discipline, despite a few hiccups.
“We did have some falls but we got back up and we go through it,” Bassarab said. “I always tell them, ‘focus on the skill that you’re doing, when you’re doing it. Don’t focus on the high bar when you’re on the low bar, think about the high bar when you’re on the high bar.’ I think just being able to fall and get back up again, get in front of all these people and finish your routine with their skill level, is just amazing. I give them so much credit. And they do such a good job.”
While the team did well with the vault and uneven bars, it was during the beam and floor exercises where the Mounties really stood out.
Both de la Rosa and John scored an 8.4 during in the beam, while Tuchmann scored a 7.9. However, Ellie Fitzgerald was close on Tuchmann’s heels with a 7.7.
By the time floor exercises came around, the Mounties were in control, but that didn’t mean they were going to slow down.
“Floor was great. Ellie did an amazing job. She had a great routine. Naja just added a new tumbling pass to her third pass for this meet and it went really well,” Bassarab said.
Fitzgerald’s routine gave her the top score in the discipline with a 9.6, with John (9.0) and Tuchmann (8.8) close behind.
The Mounties now begin looking towards their division meet, which comes in just a few weeks. There’s time for them to add a few more tricks to their arsenal, and Bassarab is confident they will be ready.
“I think we’re going to compete very well.”