Melrose tops Arlington, Woburn
Published January 25, 2019
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE—The Melrose High gymnastics team is back on the winning track following two straight wins over Woburn and Arlington this week to improve to 2-3, with league rival Winchester on tap this Friday night at 7:30 at the Saugus YMCA.
While Melrose got off to a slow start to the season, they recently scored an eye-popping 140 points against Reading, a score that couldn’t top the Rockets, but ultimately could help Melrose qualify for sectionals.
“Our first two meets were shaky,” says longtime coach Denise Valdez. “And I saw a little bit of the spark go out of them with the losses. Against Reading, I encouraged them to do the best they could but focus on having fun. And that’s what they did. Everyone was on, and I couldn’t be more proud of their effort. It’s a big score.”
Melrose beat the Woburn Tanners on Monday afternoon by a score of 133.25-129.35. It was a solid day for freshmen Lucia Hannon, who competed as an all-around and scored high marks in all four events. Junior Ciara Smith also delivered, earning the top score of the night: a 9.0 in the floor exercise. Melrose’s best event was the floor, led by Smith and a strong performance by Hannon. Also keeping Melrose ahead were Sophia Weissman and Elana Simard. Simard and Hannon also led Melrose on the balance beam, helping edge the Tanners, 32.65-32.55.
Melrose started the day with a solid job on the vault behind the work of Nicole Nzui, Ciara Smith, Lucia Hannon and Brooke Heidebrect. The Lady Raiders also took a big lead in the uneven bars behind work from Jane Harrington, Lucia Hannon, Sophia Weissman and Ciara Smith.
As always, the season is moving at lightening speed. Melrose only has two meets before they compete in the Middlesex League Meet on Feb. 1. They’d like to extend their season with a team or individual qualification in the MIAA North Sectionals. To do so, they’ll need high scores near or equal to 140. That’s become a challenge as they feel the loss of junior Katie Wright, a giant scorer for Melrose, who is currently under the weather. Says Valdez, “It’s killing her not to compete, but she has to get better.”
That means that it’s all hands on deck for Melrose. With an otherwise healthy squad ready to roll, there is no reason not to think that the team’s best days could be ahead of them. “I know that with more work we have the potential to add bonus to our score, especially in floor,” says their coach. “Our goal is to dig deep and try to qualify for a postseason.”
They get that chance tonight when they host rival Winchester at the Saugus YMCA at 7:30 p.m.
Winchester High School @ Melrose 7:30
Burlington High School @ Melrose 7:30
Middlesex League Meet @ TBD