Pine-Richland sophomore makes name for herself at WPIAL gymnastics meet

Sunday, February 19, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Annamaria Samuels has a unique first name and sometimes it’s accidentally misspelled, which was the case on the WPIAL championship results sheet.

Don’t expect to see many misspellings in the future, because Samuels certainly made a name for herself with her performance at WPIALs.

Samuels, a sophomore at Pine-Richland, took first place in the vault in the Intermediate I division at the district individual championship Feb. 11 at Moon.

She scored a 9.5 on the vault to take first by a half-point over Moon’s Aubrey Marasco.

“It was great,” Samuels said. “Our team prepared for a really long time, and it was an amazing feeling to see it all pay off. You don’t expect everything to go perfect every single time and you never really know what the judges response is going to be. You have to go into it humble and come out hoping you did great.”

The winning vault came on the second of her two competitive runs. She stuck the landing and after seeing her score, knew she was in the mix but didn’t know for sure that she had earned a gold medal until her name was called during the podium ceremony.

“I didn’t expect to see the score be that high, so that was a great feeling,” Samuels said. “Then I knew I had a shot.”

Along with her victory on vault, Samuels finished eighth on beam and 17th in the floor routine.

Samuels has been involved in gymnastics since she was 3 years old.

“I just started with the classes with my mom and eventually started competing,” Samuels said. “I do USAG and have been competing in that for most of my life. You have to be very committed in this sport. You’re at the gym constantly. It’s unique, and it’s really the only sport that’s grabbed my attention.”

Samuels’ Pine-Richland teammate Nadia Constantakis earned a fourth-place finish in the advanced all-around. Constantakis was sixth in vault, fourth on bars, seventh on beam and fifth in the floor routine.

Samuels and Constantakis helped Pine-Richland finish second overall in the WPIAL team championship the night before individuals.

The Rams ended up as runners-up to defending champion Moon, which won its eighth district championship.

The result was a big improvement for the Rams, who moved up four spots from a season ago.

Samuels enjoyed getting the opportunity to compete with her teammates again on a big stage.

“The team environment is great,” Samuels said. “You count for them and they give me that drive to do well. It’s as much team as it is individual in this sport. In those moments on the beam or trying to stick that tumble perfectly, I’m doing it for them so all of our hard work can pay off together. To go from sixth to second was fantastic.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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