Moon captures 2nd straight WPIAL gymnastics championship

Friday, February 16, 2018 | 11:14 PM

In the comforts of their home gym, members of the Moon gymnastics team edged a tough Thomas Jefferson squad by a margin of just one-tenth of a point to secure the 2018 WPIAL gymnastics team championship Friday night.

While it may be the prolific program’s second title in a row and fifth in the last seven years, for Tigers coach Amy Caprino, it still feels like the very first time.

“It’s definitely the same as the first time. There’s a whole lot of excitement because each time it’s a different group of kids. They’re experiencing this for the first time,” Caprino said. “Even though I’m not, they are. And I get to live it through them.”

The judges at the WPIAL championship would have been hard-pressed to score the competition any closer, as Moon’s team-record total score of 148.050 narrowly defeated second-place Thomas Jefferson, which put together a 147.950 mark.

With such a small margin for error, any mistake during the competition by one of the Tigers’ gymnasts could have easily meant a second-place finish. However, Caprino said her girls are well versed on how matches are scored, and that a close win like this one is just a reflection of their ability to execute.

“We constantly talk about the actual scoring, what things are worth,” Caprino said.

“Probably, most of our girls could take the judges’ test and pass it because that’s how much we talk about the rules with them, and how each skill holds a certain value. So, they know if they didn’t connect on something, how it would change their scores.”

Moon captured the top score in three of the four events — vault, balance beam and floor exercise. Thomas Jefferson took first in the uneven bars and finished second in the other three events.

The closest event, the balance beam, saw the Tigers top the Jaguars by just .05 points. When the final team scores were totaled, that small discrepancy would loom large.

“We had our highest beam score today, so that was great to see. A lot of it ends up coming down to the beam, who stays on it and who doesn’t,” Caprino said.

“The girls did really well with the beam, and they just did really well with every event today.”

North Allegheny finished in third place with a score of 144.900. Central Valley took fourth at 139.400, and West Allegheny grabbed fifth with a 136.600. Hampton was sixth at 105.500.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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