Send five competitors to State Individuals today

Published in the February 18, 2019 edition.


STONEHAM — The theme for the 2019 Wakefield gymnastics team could be improvement, but that is typically a word used to explain an up-and-coming program. Wakefield has improved from last season. They had three more regular season wins and they finished one place higher at last Monday’s Middlesex League Meet in Stoneham.

The problem is, Wakefield is no longer up-and-coming. They’re here.

“When Meg (Delory) and I got hired last year, our goal was to bring some fun and excitement back into the Wakefield high school gymnastics program; we never could have imagined all the success we have had,” said Wakefield head coach Rachel Lucas when asked if she envisioned this type of success so soon.

Just two years ago, Wakefield was a program struggling to find their footing in an ultra competitive league. They had been winless for over 10 seasons. But all of that changed last year and Wakefield proved this year that they do in fact have one of the best teams in the league. Their second overall at leagues is the best finish in at least 20 years.

The turnaround should no doubt include credit to the culture created by coach Lucas and coach Delory, but they are quick to point to the hard work of this year’s  student athletes who have an incredible mix of talent, perseverance and unity.

“This group we have this year is an incredible group,” said Lucas. “They are supportive and competitive with each other and I think that is part of why we have been so successful. They are pushing and helping each other to gain new skills and perform better. We are lucky to have a group so dedicated and hardworking.”

So with improvement the goal, Wakefield went to Stoneham on Monday not just with a top three finish in mind, but a top two. They got it with a team score of 139.25, just edging third-place Stoneham (139.2). Reading got first with a 145.0.

Lola Barrett brought it for the Warriors competing as an All-Around. She led Wakefield in every single event and finished second in the league in All-Around with a score of 36.55 finishing just behind Reading’s Hannah Whitney (36.6).

Barrett got a 9.05 on vault, a 9.2 on bars, an 8.8 on beam and a 9.5 on floor.

The Warriors have had a strong one-two punch all season as Giana Liotine, also a sophomore, has been a consistent scorer in multiple events. Liotine competed in three events for Wakefield, getting the second highest score on the team in both the vault (8.9) and the floor (8.9).

Wakefield’s 35.1 on vault was third in the league. Barrett’s 9.05 was 4th overall, while Liotine’s 8.9 was 8th overall. Freshman Molly Grady got the third highest score on vault with an 8.75. Captain Elise Rich finished up the scoring with an 8.4 but the Warriors showed their depth as not far behind was Jessica Maffe and Ava Licciardi who both scored an 8.3.

Wakefield got a 34.5 on bars which was also third in the league behind Melrose (34.85) and Reading (36.15). It’s an event that Wakefield has improved on a lot over the course of the season. Barrett’s 9.2 was good for 3rd overall in the league. Sydney Yee picked up a strong 9.0 on bars for the second best Wakefield score and 6th in the league. The Warriors finished up the scoring with Liotine’s 8.3 and an 8.0 from Margot Bridge.

Wakefield’s consistent 3rd place scoring continued on the balance beam where their 34.4 only trailed Stoneham (35.25) and Reading (36.05). Barrett’s 8.8 was good for 6th in the league, followed by an 8.6 from Yee which was 10th in the league.

Beam is one of Wakefield’s deepest events and they proved it at leagues. On any day, the Warriors have six competitors who are always in the mix and constantly pushing each to improve. Elise Rich and Courtney Collins both had impressive performances as they each had an 8.5 to round out the strong scoring for the Warriors. Although they didn’t score, Liotine (8.2) and Grady (8.2) were also good.

Wakefield closed it out strong on the floor exercise, again getting third in the league to finish off a consistent performance with a team score of 35.25, behind only Stoneham (35.6) and Reading (37.125).

Barrett’s incredible 9.5 on floor was the second best performance in the league, just barely off the pace set by Stoneham’s Keara Cronin (9.55). Liotine’s 8.9 was 9th overall. Yee concluded her fantastic day as Wakefield’s X factor with an 8.65. Alana Willis finished off the scoring with an 8.2.

Wakefield’s historic season continues today at the Individual State Championship Meet in Tewksbury as five Warriors will represent Wakefield. Barrett qualified for all arounds, Liotine will compete on vault and bars, Yee qualified on bars and beam, Rich will compete on beam and Grady qualified on vault.

After Individuals, Wakefield will again display their talent at the state level when they compete as a team at North Sectionals on Saturday. The Warriors got the 4th seed at sectionals, following Masco, Newton South and Reading. Joining the Warriors and Rockets from the Middlesex League will be No. 5 Melrose and No. 9 Stoneham.