Thomas Jefferson wins state gymnastics team championship

Saturday, February 24, 2018 | 10:03 PM

Last week, Thomas Jefferson lost by a slim margin to Moon in the WPIAL gymnastics team championship.

However, Thomas Jefferson got the final say when the Jaguars topped the Tigers to capture the Pennsylvania Classic team championship for the gold division at Moon on Saturday.

In their second season, the Jaguars captured their first state title when they finished with a total score of 149.015. Moon claimed second with a total of 146.917.

“Over the last week, we went into the gym and worked really hard. We got some things straightened out,” coach Jodi Cummings said. “I told the girls that slow and steady wins the race just go four for four.”

Thomas Jefferson finished first in two events — uneven bars and balance beam — and finishing as the runner-up to Moon in the vault and floor exercise.

Balance beam again proved to be the deciding event.

Thomas Jefferson finished with an event best 38.050. Moon finished third (35.950) behind Central Valley (36.000).

“We hit all top four for teams, and we got high scores. They looked like rockstars on the balance beam,” Cummings said.

At WPIALs last week, Moon narrowly defeated Thomas Jefferson 148.050,-147.950.

Last season, Moon captured their fourth state title in five years after edging Thomas Jefferson. The Tigers finished with a score of 145.685, while the Jaguars finished second (143.726).

Prior to joining the WPIAL in 2016, Thomas Jefferson gymnasts traveled with Baldwin as independent gymnasts.

Fresh off a state title, the Jaguars are already looking ahead. They want to win their first WPIAL title and become back-to-back state champions.

“We really worked hard to get here. Our kids had an awesome season,” Cummings said. “Next year, we look forward to becoming WPIAL and state champions. That's our goal, and that's what we will work toward all summer long.”

Central Valley finished third with a score of 141.917 in the gold division. Altoona (140.975) took fourth, and West Allegheny (137.883) and South Side Beaver (136.726) were fifth and sixth, respectively.

In the silver division, which consisted of four teams, Hopewell finished fourth with a 126.992. In the bronze division, Baldwin (124.675) finished second of three teams.

In the individual championships, West Allegheny's Jordan Frasier, who finished first in the floor exercise, captured the all-around crown in the diamond division with a total score of 37.833.

Other all-around local winners included Central Valley's Carolyn Grimm (gold division) and Moon's Isabelle Coulter (silver division). Coulter finished first in the balance beam and floor exercise.

In the diamond division, Thomas Jefferson's Natalie Galioto finished first in uneven bars and balance beam. Jaguar teammates — Demi Kondos and Natalie Moore — finished second and third in the balance beam.

Moon's Alayna Hudzinski finished on top of the podium in the vault for the diamond division.

Moon's Jenna Puhalla (vault) and Leah Bookser (uneven bars) captured titles in the gold division. South Side Beaver's Mira McNary finished with the highest mark in the balance beam.

Central Valley's Kelsey Watt won the balance beam in the bronze division.

Andrew John is a freelance writer.

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