WMass gymnastics: Freshman Hailey Raffa’s silver on vault paces third-place Hampshire Regional

  • Hampshire Regional freshmen Hailey Raffa placed sixth in the all-around at the Western Massachusetts Gymnastics Championships and reached the podium in every event. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 11/7/2019 11:12:11 PM
Modified: 11/7/2019 11:12:00 PM

WILBRAHAM — Hailey Raffa went back and forth whether to attempt the Yurchenko vault at Thursday’s Western Massachusetts Gymnastics Championships. The Hampshire Regional freshman has only landed the skill twice. It involves a roundoff onto the springboard and a back handspring onto the vaulting table, then the gymnast dismounts with any trick from a simple tuck to a triple twist.

“I decided why not and just went for it,” Raffa said.

She flipped and landed comfortably facing the vault. Hampshire coach Lisa Anthony immediately grabbed her for a hug, and her teammates mobbed soon after.

“When I land it, it’s just pure excitement,” Raffa said. “I did not think that was gonna happen.”

The vault scored 8.45, good for second in the event. It was Raffa’s best finish at the meet. She placed sixth in the all-around with 33.05 points and made the podium in every event.

“She usually scores higher. She was a little shaky on beam tonight,” Anthony said. “It wasn’t her best meet, but she’s consistent and she works her butt off. She did a great job.”

Raffa took fifth on beam (8.5), fifth on bars (8.5) and tied for fifth in the floor exercise (8.8). She was the only Hampshire gymnast to receive a medal.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking for the first time but was fun overall,” Raffa said of the championship. “I’m gonna try and calm my nerves more and take it slow and improve the skills I can.”

Minnechaug’s Kyla Miller captured the all-around title with 34.35 points, and the host Falcons won the team title with 137.6 points. Hampshire was third with 127.825. The Raiders were without three-event gymnast Hadleigh Rogalski, who injured her toe Monday. They relied on their increased numbers to pick up some of the slack.

“We used our depth,” Anthony said.

Senior Maura Joseph was named the Senior Gymnast of the Year. She finished seventh on beam (8.35), eighth on floor (8.6) and eight in the all-around (32.725).

Allison Johndrow finished eighth on bars (8.0) and completed a giant for the first time by rotating 360 degrees with her arms fully extended. She learned it on Monday and had the stunt competition-ready three days later. Johndrow also was seventh on vault (8.1).

Hampshire will graduate six seniors but boasts a large returning class to continue to build with.

“We’re gonna continue to build up our depth,” Anthony said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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