The Day – Stonington’s Laskey wins ECC balance beam title, as Woodstock earns 12th consecutive team honor

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Norwich – Lydia Laskey’s first experience of gymnastics came when she was about 6 years old at a friend’s birthday party at ABC Shoreline Gymnastics at Niantic.

“They took us around a few times,” Laskey said.

This is the first time she has stood on a balance beam. It’s a feat she’s become known for in her accomplished gymnastics career and a talent that earned Laskey, a Stonington High School junior, a Connecticut Eastern Conference championship Saturday at Thames Valley Gymnastics.

Laskey scored a 9.2 on balance beam, allowing him to break through the impenetrable wall that is Woodstock Academy’s gymnastics team to claim victory.

Woodstock junior Taylor Markley won the other three disciplines to claim the all-around title with 37.9 points as the Centaurs won their 12th straight conference championship. Markley won on vault (9.5), uneven bars (9.7) and floor (9.7).

Woodstock’s total of 140.55 points for first place puts them comfortably ahead, with a close race for second between Norwich Free Academy (129.45), Stonington (128.45) and Killingly (128.25) in the field of four teams.

“I’ve always been confident on the balance beam. It’s always been my favorite event,” Laskey said, speaking of the event that many other competitors have. less favorite event. “I always got up and did my best. It comes naturally to me.

“It’s hard sometimes when the music from the ground is in your ears. Also, coming back from COVID has been hard because I took a long break. But I have confidence in myself right now. … We We have a lot of newcomers to the team, but I’m really proud of them.”

Laskey said a 3/4 split is her toughest element on the balance beam — she does a half turn, does a split, then turns another quarter. She said the 9.2 equaled her best score of the season.

East Lyme’s Kaitlyn Abbey, meanwhile, was second to Markley in the all-around with 36.35 points, with Woodstock’s Olivia Aleman third (36.0), Plainfield’s Brenna Johnson fourth (35.3), Kiera O ‘Brien de Tourtellotte fifth (35.15) and Laskey sixth (34.65).

Abbey, who was second on bars at 9.2 and tied for second on beam at 9.0, knew she was going to have tough competition against Markley. She called Markley’s high scores “100% deserving.”

“I’m kind of like a fan girl to her,” Abbey said. “She has tremendous skills. I have to do my best to match that. It really helps to have someone pushing you. It’s nice to have. … I’m so happy. I’ve done some my best. “

Abbey, who is part of a two-man team with East Lyme’s Franny Duong, followed the same rotation as Stonington on Saturday. After Stonington played and then left to warm up on his next fixture, Abbey and Duong performed for East Lyme. Woodstock, who followed this group in every event, was often heard applauding Abbey.

“I don’t really have a team,” Abbey said. “It really made me happy to see that I had people cheering me on.”

Says Abbey: “I wanted to win something today, but I don’t really want to win everything. I want scores, averages, that will get me into the State Open.”

NFA coach Cindy Briggs Grossi didn’t tell the Wildcats how the team’s scores are heading toward their final discipline, the balance beam. This is the third season for Grossi, who graduated from the NFA in 2011, which has seen the team’s wealth of talent continue to improve during her tenure.

“I’m so proud,” Grossi said. “They’ve really come a long way. I told them, ‘It’s not over until it’s over. Put mistakes behind you. The strong things you did paid off. We have certainly come a long way in the past two years. We showed our depth today. Our top performers get even stronger. We only went up.

“I’m not talking about the scores. But we stayed focused (on the beam). They did a really good job. It was so exciting to see them so shocked and happy (when they announced the results).”

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