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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 24, 2011

Patnaude, Day, and Levy go to states
Guilderland gymnasts finish behind Saratoga again

By Jordan J. Michael

COLONIE –– Some Lady Dutch gymnasts sat in a circle on the floor, looking somber, after giving up all the energy that they had during the Section II Championships. Guilderland had planned to dethrone Saratoga, a team that had won sectionals nine times in a row.

Instead, the Lady Dutch (166.500) finished third on Feb. 16 at Shaker, about a third of a point behind Shaker (166.850), and about six points behind Saratoga (172.325). Guilderland had been runner-up to Saratoga in the previous four championships.

Senior Alexa Patnaude, who finished fourth in the all-around competition with a score of 34.525, could barely come up with words when asked about the possibility of overtaking Saratoga.

“You have no idea, really,” Patnaude said. “It’s not OK to lose to them again, but I guess it has to be. We have to be able to sleep.”

The Lady Dutch performed well and seemed to have a real shot at unseating the Blue Streaks this year. Guilderland’s only two losses of the regular season were to Saratoga, but by a very small margin each time.

“We all want it to happen,” Head Coach Brenda Goodknight said after sectionals. “It’s been a long season, but maybe next year.”

Coach Goodknight’s daughter, Kara, a senior, thought that the scoring might have been a little skewed in Saratoga’s favor. For example, the Blue Streaks had more falls off the balance beam than the Dutch, but scored 2.3 points higher. Guilderland was almost flawless during the floor exercise, but finished 1.3 points behind Saratoga.

“Some of the scoring was a little out there,” said Kara. “You’re supposed to connect two flipping elements and two flight elements together and we worked hard to do that. You can’t connect while stopping in between. It’s worth a lot of points.”

Coach Goodknight told The Enterprise that she was confused about the judging of the floor exercise. “They didn’t seem to like us,” she said. “The scores were four- or five- tenths lower than what we usually get, but I think we did great. However, you can’t ask questions or protest.”

The Guilderland gymnasts stayed positive throughout the competition, despite Saratoga’s reputation as a champion.

“It’s the same thing every time,” Goodknight said. “They are known for being Saratoga, so it doesn’t matter. They’re really good and big things don’t ever affect them.”

The Lady Dutch started with the uneven bars, one of its best events, but Coach Goodknight could tell that her team was “a little more nervous than usual.” Patnaude finished second on the bars with a score of 8.95, with the team coming about a half-point shy of Saratoga.

“No surprises, really,” said Coach Goodknight. “We eventually got over the nerves and stayed focused.”

Patnaude, Goodknight, and Jasmine Day, as seniors, were responsible for keeping the younger girls focused. “We tell them to relax and have fun,” said Patnaude said. “They stress themselves out, but we talk them down and remind them that we do this for fun. We get to pound on things and flip around.”

It’s the sixth year in a row that Patnaude will represent Section II at the state meet, which is on Saturday, March 5 at Shaker. Patnaude will be competing on uneven bars and floor exercise. Joining her will be Day and sophomore Jaclyn Levy, both on the vault. It’s Levy’s third year at states and Day’s first time as a sixth-year varsity gymnast.

“We did the best we could,” Levy said. “It was hard work.”

Coach Goodknight was proud of her whole team, but especially of eighth-graders Naomi Downes and Danielle Mackin. Downes finished 10th in the all-around with a score of 32.625 and Mackin kicked off the dazzling floor event with an 8.4 score.

“The little kids didn’t crumble,” said Coach Goodknight.

“Everyone gave their best, no matter what,” Patnaude said. “We’re happy with ourselves and we all love each other.”

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