Spencer Schultz and Tyra Carter
Assistant Editor of Production and Staff Writer
All of Jamesville-DeWitt High School’s girls winter sports teams made it to their respective state competitions this winter. Varsity Girls Gymnastics placed third in New York state as a combined Section III team at their meet on February 27 at Shaker High School near Albany. Varsity Girls Indoor Track competed March 5 at Cornell University.
The combined J-D/Fayetteville-Manlius Gymnastics team may have won sectionals over three months ago, in early November, but that wasn't the end to their season. However, because gymnastics is a winter sport for high schools in southern New York state, the four state-qualifying gymnasts from J-DHS and one from F-M had to wait until late February to finish off their season at the state meet.
Qualifiers eighth grader Rachel Wells, freshman Ana Dieroff, sophomore Mia Potamianos and senior Anyi Liebler-Bendix maintained the form and skills they achieved during their fall season by keeping in shape with their club teams until the state meet. Even though the Section III gymnasts experienced injuries during the time between the fall season’s end and the state meet, the Section III team still placed third out of eleven sections at states. “We had a lot of injuries, so we didn’t have the ‘best of the best’ on each event, but for what we had, we did very well,” says Liebler-Bendix.
After an injury her junior year left her unable to attend states, Liebler-Bendix trained especially hard this season to return to her elite level of performance, qualifying in two events: the floor and bars. So it was a great heartbreak to her when she injured herself for a second time at the state meet. “My knee started hurting at the practice before the state meet. I ended up doing the bars, because that is only using arms, so it didn’t affect my knee, but I wasn’t able to do the floor,” says Liebler-Bendix.
Of the 10 Section III gymnasts who qualified, three were injured, including Liebler-Bendix. Because of all this, Dieroff, who had qualified in just one event: vault, had to step up and compete in two events that she hadn’t prepared for. “Ana was our ‘all-star’ of the meet. It’s pretty cool for a freshman to step up and take on those extra events,” says Liebler-Bendix.
Though the gymnasts performed well in their individual events, Potamianos says the highlight of the meet was placing third as a team. “It was really nerve-wracking, when they were calling out the places of each section. We had no idea what place we were going to get. It was the best surprise hearing them call out Section III in third place,” says Potamianos.
Following up the conclusion of the gymnastics competition, there was still more excitement to come for J-D sports, with three star athletes also having success at the indoor track state meet.
Sophomore Alex Payne, junior Hannah Butler, and senior Casey Keane ran at the meet in Ithaca. While Payne and Butler were scoring points for J-DHS, Keane represented Section III on an intersectional medley relay. The relay, made up of Section III’s top runners, placed seventh out of 11 teams. “ It was really overwhelming, being my first state meet ever as a senior, so it was really cool to experience that,” says Keane.
Butler recorded the fastest time in the 3,000 meter run for Division I, made up of larger schools. Overall, she placed 10th out of 32, dropping nine seconds from her time, with a final time of 10:08.85. “This is my first year in states for indoor track, (and) it was a really cool experience,” says Butler.
After placing third in the pentathlon in the state meet for outdoor track last year, Payne had high expectations for her performance. However, Payne didn’t do as well as she hoped, placed 21st out of 29 competitors. Despite her disappointing performance, Payne already has her eyes set on next year’s competition.
Though freshman Sophia Vinciguerra did not meet the state qualifying time, she did meet the requirements to participate on a national scale. As she is young, Vinciguerra has three more years of opportunity to compete in states, and most likely will, as she attended the Freshman Mile at the New Balance Nationals Indoors on March 11. She placed 15th nationally in the event with a time of 5:20.69.
Even with all the success of gymnastics and indoor track at states, they were surpassed by the eleven J-D girls who came together as team to win the first state championship for Varsity Girls Basketball in school history.