Baldwin gymnasts earn 9th state championship
Friday, March 6, 2020 | 5:15 PM
Baldwin can add another year on the state championship banner for gymnastics in its high school gym.
The Highlanders finished first in the silver division team competition at the Pennsylvania Classic last month at Moon. The classic is representative of the state championship meet in gymnastics.
Baldwin took first place on vault, bars and floor in the silver division, and now has won nine state titles in gymnastics, along with three WPIAL crowns.
“The girls had an awesome meet,” coach Jodi Cummings said. “The competition usually comes down to the balance beam, but this meet was a little different. They needed to stay on beam, but they also had to take advantage of their strong event, which is floor. They pulled away from the other teams (on the floor) and were able to win the state title.
“I’m so proud of these girls. They have a small, young team but they are close. They also had their friends and teammates from TJ cheering them on.”
Baldwin was led at the state meet by the one-two punch of senior Alaina Wodarek and sophomore Mia Dougherty.
“Alaina’s a strong leader and the girls all look up to her,” Cummings said. “And Mia is our strongest all-around gymnast.”
Wodarek, who took third place in the gold division at the WPIAL meet, is a third-year gymnast who specializes in the floor exercise. She earned WPIAL titles on floor the past two seasons.
“Alaina’s strongest event is definitely floor,” Cummings said. “She is a great performer and captures your attention when she’s competing.”
Baldwin was followed by Hopewell, South Side and Montour in the final silver division standings.
“We had a nearly perfect meet at states; it was so rewarding when we got called for first,” Wodarek said. “I’m so glad I joined gymnastics because it kept me conditioned and improved my tumbling even further. I made alot of friends from multiple schools, too.”
Wodarek, the lone senior on the squad, also was a captain on the WPIAL championship competitive spirit squad at Baldwin.
She plans to attend Kentucky and join the Wildcats’ cheerleading program.
“It has always been my dream to be a UK cheerleader,” Wodarek said, “and my athletic experiences as a cheerleader and gymnast in high school have prepared me for this journey. I am ready to become a collegiate athlete.”
Wodarek and Dougherty were complemented at the state meet by sophomores Emily Schwab, Hanna Kuchnicki, Haley Staab, Abbey Herrle and Bailey Harding
“We had one of our best meets of the season,” Dougherty said. “All our hard work at practice really paid off, and we improved greatly from the first meet.”
Dougherty has been competing in gymnastics since the fourth grade. She also has participated in track and field at Baldwin.
Dougherty’s favorite and best event in the gym is the balance beam.
“For me, beam did not go as I would have hoped (at the classic) because I had better routines during the season,” she said. “But I wrapped up the meet with one of my best bar routines. Vault and floor also went very well; I had some of my highest scores.”
Dougherty said she expects more of the same for Baldwin next season.
“I expect us to do even better next year than we did this year,” she said, “and for all of us to have even (more difficult) skills next season.”
Cummings is assisted by Becky Revo, Sam Duttine and Kristen Weber. All four have strong backgrounds in gymnastics and also coach the Thomas Jefferson gymnasts, along with several individual competitors from area schools.
“My four coaches have been a tremendous influence on me,” Wodarek said. “They encouraged me to set my goals high, making me a stronger athlete and person. I am now tougher, more fearless and stronger.”
This season, TJ won its fourth section title in a row, second consecutive WPIAL championship, and finished as state runner-up in the gold division.
TJ senior Natalie Moore set a new state vault record by beating the record she established last year.
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