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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 25, 2010

Lady Dutch gymnastics ships four girls to state meet

By Jordan J. Michael

GUILDERLAND –– The Lady Dutch gymnastics team pulled it together at sectionals and almost beat eight-time defending champion Saratoga.

Guilderland went into the Feb. 11 sectional meet with only two losses on the season. The team had a combined score of 167.55, only 1.925 behind the first-place Blue Streaks. Saratoga finished first on vault, uneven bars, and balance beam. The Dutch took first on floor.

“We could have beat Saratoga if we had a perfect day,” said Head Coach Brenda Goodknight. “The pressure was on and we hung tough. Saratoga is an excellent team and we have a nice rivalry going now. Getting that close to them was exciting.”

Just like last year, Guilderland is sending four girls to the state meet on Saturday in Melville, Long Island. Junior, co-captain, and fifth-year varsity gymnast Alexa Patnaude will be joined by ninth-graders Jaclyn Levy and, Casey Girvin, and by eighth-grader Hailey Marini.

Patnaude, who is making her fourth appearance at states, finished second overall with an all-around score of 34.775. Her second-place performance at sectionals allows her to compete in all four events at states for the first time in her career.

Patnaude is consistently a top scorer on uneven bars in Section II and she finished second with a score of 8.8. She also had a personal best score of 9.225 on the floor exercise to place second.

“She’s definitely the leader of our team,” Goodknight said of Patnaude. “She struggled with her new floor routine at the beginning of the season, but nailed it at sectionals. That shows how hard she works.”

Levy is returning to the state meet to compete in floor exercise and vault. She finished 28th on the balance beam last year. “She flips easily,” said Goodknight.

“Most of the other girls at states have more experience,” said Levy. “I just try to stay positive and be my best.”

Jaclyn Levy’s sister, Claire, would have had a great chance to qualify for states, but she injured her ankle at the final league meet of the season and had to miss sectionals. Goodknight told The Enterprise that her team would have beaten Saratoga if Claire had been able to go.

“We were at a loss without Claire,” Goodknight said. “But, I appreciate all the other girls for filling the void and scoring points.”

Girvin missed all of last season with a broken arm, but came back strong to excel on the floor exercise. “I worked really hard to get muscle back in my arm over the summer,” she said. “I didn’t hold back at all.”

“It was a spectacular comeback,” said Goodknight.

Marini is going to states as a first-year varsity gymnast and she’ll be competing in the floor exercise with Girvin. She tied teammate Jaclyn Levy with an all-around score of 32.7.

“She was very impressive for a rookie,” Goodknight said of Marini. “I thought her best chance was on the balance beam, but she had something to prove on floor.”

Sophomore Katie Govin placed sixth on balance beam and former state qualifier Catalena Diamente placed 10th on uneven bars. Freshman Lena Rotella placed 12th in the all-around and freshman Kendra Lizotte placed 12th on vault and uneven bars. Junior Jasmine Day finished 14th on balance beam and 15th on vault.

“We have a really young team and the girls struggled to work together at times,” said Goodknight. “They all have differences, but it all came together in the end.”

A top showing at sectionals is the only way a gymnast can reach states. Girvin said that this rule is unfair to the athletes who consistently score high during the season.

“It’s so much pressure for one day,” Girvin said. “Maybe they could take your score at sectionals and put that together with your season average or something. That would make things more fair.”

Patnaude, Jaclyn Levy, Girvin, and Marini will be at their peak training level leading up to the state meet. The athletes will refine routines, showmanship, and artistry. Everything needs to be perfect for a chance to place well.

“Some girls will add a piece to their routine that they didn’t do all season,” Goodknight said. “I’m not sure if my girls will add anything, but they’ll definitely experiment. They might have a few tricks.”

“I’m going to try to increase my tumbling passes,” said Jaclyn Levy. Each floor exercise has about three different tumbling passes. “I’ll get better requirements if I increase my passes.”

Patnaude and Levy will try to settle the nerves for Girvin and Marini because the two have already been on the statewide stage.

“There’s nothing to worry about because there’s nothing else to qualify for,” Levy said. “Just try to have fun.”

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