Thomas Jefferson claims 1st WPIAL gymnastics title

Friday, February 15, 2019 | 10:36 PM

Last year, the Thomas Jefferson gymnastics team came so close to a WPIAL title, they could taste it as they finished as runner-up to Moon by just one-tenth of a point.

This year, the Jaguars got their WPIAL gold. And they did so with a couple of points to spare.

Finishing with a total of 146.375, coach Jodi Cummings’ team claimed its first WPIAL gymnastics championship in the program’s short, yet productive, history. To hear her tell it, the heartbreak from last season’s close finish only made this season’s victory more rewarding.

“It feels amazing. We have been working really hard. It’s our third year as a team. We’ve won our section three years in a row. Last year, we won the state title but not the WPIAL, so this makes it all the sweeter,” Cummings said.

“It felt like we were due for this, so we’re excited.”

The Jaguars’ first-place finish spoiled Moon’s attempt at its second three-peat in the last eight years. The Tigers earned second place with a score of 144.883. Pine-Richland secured third place with a 144.265 total.

What separated Thomas Jefferson more then anything was its performance in the balance beam event. The Jaguars accrued a score of 35.133 in the beam to finish first in the event while Moon suffered its worst score of the night, 32.399, placing sixth out of seven teams.

In addition to the beam, the Jaguars took first in the uneven bars with a score of 36.934. The gold medalists also grabbed second in the vault (37.933), and fourth in the floor exercise (36.375).

“We’re a pretty solid team in all four events. We’re really strong on the bars, so I expected us to do well there. But it seems like these meets typically come down to the beam, and who can stay on and who cannot stay on. We had a fairly good beam day, and that helped,” Cummings said.

“I’m very proud of the girls, and I know they’re very proud. They’ve been working really hard for years now. This was one of our main goals, to capture this championship, and they were able to do it.”

Rounding out the scoring was North Allegheny in fourth (142.718), West Allegheny in fifth (138.660), Baldwin in sixth (138.941) and Central Valley in seventh (136.775).

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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