BRINGING HOME THE GOLD — Summit Gymnastics Center won the Niagara Cup Invitational championship at Level 5.
NIAGARA — The Niagara Frontier Gymnastics Club recently held its 33rd Annual Niagara Cup Invitational at the Koessler Center on the campus of Canisius College and hosted teams from across New York, Ohio, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. The local Summit Gymnastics Center sent 52 athletes, representing seven levels of Jr. Olympic Gymnastics.
The high point of the weekend was the dominant win by Summit’s Level 5 team on Sunday, March 9. Hampered by illness and injury in earlier competitions, the team entered this meet firing on all cylinders, besting the second-place team by nearly 3 points. Summit was led by Mari Aures, who placed sixth on vault, second on both beam and bars and won the floor event. This led her to first in all-around, scoring a 38.15. Teammate Marissa Volk won her age group all-around. Volk also won floor and placed second on bars.
Emma Hughes finished second all-around and on bars and vault and fifth on beam. Back from injury, Megan Axelson placed in the top six on bars, vault, floor and beam, which earned her third in the all-around. Emily LaCerais finished fifth, in all-around and bars. Heather Thomson was also a top 10 all-arounder, taking seventh. Completing the Summit squad was Emerson Hall, who finished second on floor and fifth on beam and Kacey Stack, who finished fifth on vault.
The meet began for Summit on March 7, with Level 8 Julia Rak. Rak, a former two-time all-around State Champion and a rookie at the upper optional level, turned in a solid performance in a field deep with veterans. She is headed to Level 8 State Championships, at the end of March.
Summit’s Level 7 squad competed, later that afternoon. Six athletes represented the team, led by rookie Lauren Radka. Radka placed sixth on floor, fifth on bars and third on both vault and beam, earning third in her age group all-around. Nastya Korsh was followed by teammate Rachele Anthony, who placed fourth on uneven bars. Kareena Plauman, Kiera Shanahan and Maddy Bork completed the squad, with Bork qualifying to the State Championships.
Both the Summit Level 3 and 4 teams placed second, in the team event. Level 3 was led by Kim Braun, who won her age group all-around, as well as vault and bars. Braun also placed second, on both beam and floor. Teammates Morgan Fowler, Kyrsten Ripple, Emily Siener and Grace Miller took second-fourth and sixth all-around spots, respectively, nearly sweeping the age group. Ripple won beam and Fowler won floor. Summit’s Noa Blader was fourth in her age group all-around and third on bars. Miranda Volk and Paige Siener both finished fifth all-around, in their age groups. Abby Siener was sixth all-around and Ashlie Schasel was seventh.
The top scorer for the Level 4 team was Riley Bernas, who placed third on vault, as well as fourth in all-around. Julia Patti followed with a second on floor, third on beam and sixth all-around. Grace Addesa, Jordyn Mucklewee, Dasha Korsh and Devin Feeley placed in the top 13 in their respective age group all-arounds. Korsh and Addesa also placed second and third on bars, respectively. Molly Acquard, Kara Klinski and Laura Nardolillo completed the team, contributing to the second-place finish.
The entry Level 2 team fielded 15 local athletes. Participation awards are often given to this level of competition in the USAG Jr. Olympic Program. The Top 5 all-around scores for Summit were turned in by Abi Bernas, Natasha Suda, Haley Rose, Kate Hillyard and Gabby Landahl. Bernas also had the top score on bars, beam and floor while Grace Perkins turned in the high score on vault.