Strength on bars, beam bolsters title hopes

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For the members of the Montclair High School gymnastics team, this is the time of the season when they seek to reach their peak.

Over the next few weeks, Montclair will compete in the North Jersey Gymnastics League Division A Tournament and State Tournament on October 25 and November 5, respectively.

So far so good for the Mountie gymnasts.

Montclair posted its best doubleheader record in recent history, 8-1 last week. The only loss was to rival Ridgewood, 99.55-92.95.

“Our goals this year are to qualify as a team for the sections,” said Montclair coach Lauren Kruse, who added that for the team to qualify for the state tournament, they will have to finish in the top five of the North Jersey Gymnastics League Division A. Tournament.

“We’ll be working on that by cleaning up and refining some of our current routines and also adding new skills and gymnasts to the lineup.”

Senior Bianca La Fazia completes her balance beam routine against Tenafly. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)

Senior Bianca La Fazia completes her balance beam routine against Tenafly. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)

In the league tournament last season, the Mounties finished fourth, but the difference between Montclair and tournament winner Ridgewood was just 1.4 points.

Kruse knows the ingredients his team needs to dethrone Ridgewood when the league meets next week. “To beat Ridgewood in the leagues, we had to stay on the beam and do our best in all events,” the coach said. “We are very strong on bars this year, so we hope to use that to our advantage.”

It was success on parallel bars and balance beam that propelled Montclair to his flying start in 2022. And it was a mix of upper and lower classes that was responsible for that success.

Montclair rookie Delia John performs a floor drill against Tenafly on Oct. 11 in Montclair. John took first place on the ground against Tenafly with an 8.9 to help the Mounties record their best score of 102-88.5. At the start of this week, Montclair went 8-1. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)

Montclair rookie Delia John performs a floor drill against Tenafly on Oct. 11 in Montclair. John took first place on the ground against Tenafly with an 8.9 to help the Mounties record their best score of 102-88.5. At the start of this week, Montclair went 8-1. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)

The Mounties have already qualified individually in the bars for the States; Senior Bianca La Fazia, second Sarah de la Rosa, and freshmen Delilah John and Bailey Grant will participate in this event. Grant posted a 9.4 rating this season on bars, the highest on the team. On beam, junior Avery Mckay and de la Rosa qualified individually for the States.

The best returning gymnasts this season are La Fazia and de la Rosa. “The great thing about Bianca and Sarah is that they have a good balance of tough skills and also perform their tough routines very cleanly and precisely,” Kruse said. “We can always count on Bianca and Sarah to perform well and motivate the team.”

La Fazia is one of three co-captains, along with seniors Emma Zielinski and Maya Dressler.

The top newcomers in 2022 were freshmen John and Grant.

For the season, Montclair recorded over 100 points in three doubleheaders, including 102 points against Tenafly in a 102-88.5 home win on Oct. 11. The Mounties took the top three spots in all four events, bars, balance beam, floor exercise and vault. La Fazia earned the best all-around score at 33.35.

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