MADS Gymnastics Enjoys Unusual SeasonDec 31, 2020 12:04PM ● By Christopher Tremblay
While the Covid-19 pandemic still wreaks havoc amongst sports throughout the country, high schools are trying to get their athletes onto their respective fields so they can enjoy some semblance of a season.
Local gymnastic teams have been given the option to participate in the reduced season in person or remotely. Ashland high school which co-ops with Medfield and Dover-Sherborn to from MADS gymnastics, will be taking part in their contests in person.
“This is going to be a season of unknowns; one in which we are taking it week by week and day by day,” MADS Coach Jennifer Libin said. “The meets are determined by the local schools, luckily we will be participating in the in-person meets. Some schools will be going remote where one school will go about their events n their school with a judge. The two scores will then be compared, and a winner decided.”
Not actually knowing how your opponent is doing on a specific event has got to be tough. Libin is thankful that her squad will not have to deal with the remote scoring. MADS, who takes part in the South, will have six meets this winter season a home and away against Norwood, Medway, Holliston, Millis (MHM) and Norton.
Last winter, MADS finished fifth in the South Sectionals with a score of 141.975, 4 points off the top spot and a mere .0262 points out of fourth place. The squad also had two girls finish in the top 10 of overall scoring. By finishing in fifth MADS was edged out in earning a spot in the State Tournament. Unfortunately, with the situation at hand, sports will have somewhat of a season, but will not be able to participate in any tournament play this year.
“As of right now, it’s a go and … the season will start in early January. There is no real contact in gymnastics so it will be pretty much the same as in the past except that the girls will be wearing masks,” the Coach said. “We will have a small season with no post-season, which is a huge bummer for the girls but at least we will be having some sort of a season instead of nothing.”
According to Libin, COVID-19 is not really going to interfere too much with the team having success, the only thing that will bother the girls is the inability to participate in tournament play. With MADS not really in a league, there is not championship to fight for throughout the season. The only thing they have going for them is the post-season and there will not be any of that this year.
“There will be no light at the end of the tunnel this year,” Libin said. “The girls realize that, and they are grateful just to be able to go out and participate in an organized event.”
Despite the situation the gymnastic team had a rather strong signup this winter. Although there will be a lot of new young new faces this winter, the coach is very optimistic about the future.
The impending years will look bright, but for the seniors, who have had so much success over the past few years it will be a tough way to end hie high school careers.
Senior captains Merritt Sullivan (Dover-Sherborn) and Ella Pezzullo (Medfield) will close out their abbreviated season with MADS this winter while looking to keep the younger girls focused and prepared for the years to come. Sullivan finished in second place at last year’s State Tournament on the beam and will look to help the younger squad with her strong competitive natures.
Pezzullo will work her routines on the vault and floor, but what’s more important to the team is her cheerleading. According to the Coach, Pezzullo is one of the loudest girls on the squad and installs a breath of fresh air to the rest of the team.
In addition to the two senior captains, MADS is primarily underclassmen, five sophomores and seven freshman, most of whom bring a lot of talent to the mats and equipment.
DS sophomore Kelsey Chiu, who broke her back last year and was forced to miss the entire regular season before coming back around the Sectionals, is ready to get back to work. Chiu is a four-event athlete with floor being her best and although she was not able to participate last season, she still managed to make each and every practice and event cheering her team on.
“Kelsey was there all the time although she really didn’t have to be with all her school work and physical therapy, she prioritized her life so that she could be their to support her teammates,” Libin said. “That really says a lot about her character; she’s one of those kids that teammates and coaches want on their team. She cares for her teammates and wants to support team in any way she can.”
Two girls the Coach has yet to see are Medfield sophomore Grace Vuzgo and Ashland freshman Elizabeth Forester. Vuzgo’s older sister Hannah was part of the team last year and is hoping the younger sibling is just as good. As for Forester, the coach is excited to see what the first-time varsity gymnast can bring to the team.
The MADS Coach considers Medfield junior Marina Linnert to be the team’s Unsung Hero. During her first season on the squad last year Linnert managed to put up scores high enough to count in the teams scoring. Although not the highest score, she always brought a very solid performance to whatever event she was asked to ta part in.
“I could use her anywhere, often in all four events, as she was a very versatile individual,” the Coach said. “She was one who could role with the punches even if I told her what event she was doing right before the meet started.”
Libin is looking to use this shortened season as a stepping stone to the future with all the younger gymnasts. Hoping that come next winter they will be ready, and the world will be back to somewhat normal.