Westfield wins gymnastics title; Hampshire fourth, Gateway fifth
CHICOPEE — Every preseason, Westfield gymnastics coach Joanne Hewins says the chase for a sectional championship is going to be tougher than the last only to dominate the competition and pile up win after win. This year those words carried more meaning.
Westfield won its sixth straight western Massachusetts title by the slimmest of margins, defeating Minnechaug by less than three-tenths of a point Friday night at Chicopee Comprehensive. The Bombers led the pack with 134.875 points, followed by Minnechaug (134.625), Chicopee (129.150), Hampshire (124.900), Gateway (124.825) and Agawam (121.800).
Westfield extended its win streak to 78-0.
“This year was very stressful and tough because I knew (the Minnechaug Falcons) were so close,” Hewins said. “Knowing how close it was was scary.”
Westfield dominated the floor exercise in the final rotation of the evening to decide the outcome. The Bombers, led by Brendan Whitman’s first place score of 9.2, took five of the four of the top five spots.
Taryn Hamel and Josh Burrage tied for third with a 9.05, Jaymie White placed fourth with an 8.85, and Angela Bonavita was sixth (8.575).
“They had to nail their floor routines and did,” Hewins said.
Bonavita, who sat out the 2011 season with a torn ACL, capped off a brilliant comeback with a second-place finish in the all-around with a 33.875. Minnechaug’s Emily Murphy won the individual title with a 35.95.
“It was a fight,” said Bonavita. “I was in the gym every day. I guess hard work pays off.”
Bonavita tied Hampshire’s Erika Hufnagel for first on the beam (7.0) and placed fourth on the uneven bars (8.5).
“It was crazy,” Bonavita said. “We all made mistakes, but we pulled through as a team. Everybody did their part. ...Without the bond we have, none of this would be possible.”
Hamel secured third in the all-around with a 33.65. The junior gymnast not only excelled with her floor routine, but also placed third on vault (8.4) — behind teammate Kari Richard (8.45).
“This shows how we can pull it together in the end even if we have a tough meet like this,” Hamel said.
Murphy topped the competition on vault (9.05) and bars (9.1).
Gateway’s Aleesha Grochowski and Samantha Dame placed sixth and seventh, respectively, in the all-around. Grochowski recorded a score of 32.25; Dame, 32.20.
Dame had her most successful effort on vault, tying for fifth with an 8.3.
“It was a tough night,” Dame said. “I didn’t have my best meet, but I feel our team did good overall.”
Grochowski was fourth on vault, scoring an 8.35.
“We’re working together — our spirits are high on this team,” said Gateway coach Jennie Beneway, a former Gators’ gymnast who graduated in 2006. “We need to pull all our stuff together. We have the materials. Now we just have to use them.”