Pine-Richland celebrates winning 4th WPIAL gymnastics championship

Sunday, February 18, 2024 | 11:01 AM

The Pine-Richland gymnastics team brought little green foam fingers with “We’re No. 1” written on them to the WPIAL championships.

After an unbeaten regular season, it was a sign of confidence that they could get the job done in the biggest meet of the year.

As each team’s position was announced it became clear that they could break out the foam fingers for the team photo.

Pine-Richland posted a high score of 148.608 to win its first WPIAL gymnastics title since 2009 and fourth overall last week at Moon. The Rams also won in 2003 and ’06.

“The accomplishment felt incredible, and the win meant everything to our (Pine-Richland) team and coaches,” senior Nadia Constantakis said. “Our team had a ton of positive energy throughout the meet. When our team stuck our beam routines that’s when I knew that we had a great chance to win the WPIAL title.”

The Rams knocked off two-time defending champion Moon by more than four points. They finished second to Moon last year, so getting over that hump was important to them.

“That was everything for us,” junior Annamaria Samuels said. “I know Baldwin won recently, but pretty much every year it comes down to Moon. We got a 148, which was our highest score and in general I think the highest score any team had all season. I think we started this year at around 140, so it was good to see us jump that many points up. We put a lot of work in, and it was nice to see it pay off, especially against a team like Moon that is so big and has so many girls that are good.”

The Rams celebrated their championship with a team dinner.

Seven gymnasts — Samuels, Nadia Constantakis, Ana Constantakis, Stella Conley, Allison Kapanaowski, Emma Mohring and Cayden Rock — participated in at least one of the four events.

Other members of the team are Kendall Carnovale, Mia Fritz, Grace McDermott, Caitlin McDermott, Sydney Rovnan and Ava Scatena.

Strong performances on the balance beam and bars were crucial to the victory.

Samuels, a junior, posted a 9.300 on beam to lead the Rams. She has been working on new skills throughout the year and successfully completed a triple series of two handsprings and a full dismount.

“Bars and beam are the two events that can separate you,” Samuels said. “It’s so easy to fall off the beam. The five of us put our heads in together and said to think about practice and almost go into auto pilot, because we work on it so much. In that moment (on the beam), it’s just about squeeze, be tight and do it for the team. We all ended up sticking our routines. That was amazing.”

Nadia Constantakis had a 9.175 on beam. Ana Constantakis and Kapanowski each had a 9.125, making Pine-Richland the only team with four scores over nine points.

“In the sport, beam is always an event that is a chance, so you never know what’s going to happen, but I stayed confident,” Nadia Constantakis said. “Beam has always been a solid event for me. I hit all my skills. When I got up on the beam, I knew I was going to hit them.”

Ana Constantakis, a sophomore, scored 9.775 on bars.

Kapanowski, a freshman, posted an impressive 9.725 right before Ana Constantakis had her turn.

“Allison’s routine was amazing,” Ana Constantakis said. “It motivated me to do well too. I knew for bars I had to complete a flawless routine. I gave it my all and used the excitement throughout the gym to give me that extra push to focus on what I needed to accomplish. When I stuck my double back at the end, I knew I had completed a great routine and all of my teammates were excited for me.”

Kapanowski led the way on vault with a 9.600. Samuels posted a 9.475, Mohring a 9.375 and Conley a 9.175.

Nadia Constantakis scored 9.383 on floor, edging Ana Constantakis, who received a 9.350.

Pine-Richland has only two seniors, so a strong team returns for a repeat bid.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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