Warriors eye team sectionals this season
By DAN PAWLOWSKI
WAKEFIELD — The Wakefield High gymnastics team is off to a 3-3 start this season with victories over Bishop Fenwick, Arlington and Winchester and losses to Stoneham, Burlington and Wilmington/Bedford.
The Warriors are led by senior captains Molly Grady and Sydney Yee.
“Both have been a part of the high school team for four years and gymnasts for what I’m sure feels like forever to them,” said head coach Rachel Lucas. “They are not only exceptionally talented athletes but very strong leaders. They have worked hard from the moment they were named captains to make sure we had an incredible season despite Covid challenges. They are capable and talented leaders we are lucky to call our captains.”
Yee and Grady are helping along multiple Warriors who are new to the varsity lineup.
“This year’s goals are a little different,” said Lucas. “Last year we had nine seniors graduate and move on. Those seniors made up the bulk of our competitor lineup. This year, we’ve had the joy of recreating a successful lineup. It’s anchored by Sydney and Molly who have competed all around and will continue to for this season.”
Numbers are better than ever for Wakefield gymnastics. When Lucas took over for the 2017-18 season, the program was struggling to survive. Now, Lucas is proud to have 24 student athletes on the team, including new members from all grade levels.
Over the last four years, the Warriors have quickly transformed themselves into one of the best programs in the Middlesex League.
After missing out on state competitions last year due to the pandemic, the 2022 Warriors will have a chance to return. Wakefield made it to three consecutive North Sectional Tournaments, which features the 12 best teams in the north, from 2018 to 2020. The Warriors got their best finish in program history at the last sectionals in 2020, getting 5th overall. They were 8th in 2018 and 6th in 2019.
“The goal this year is to qualify for team sectionals and have some fun, too,” said Lucas who recognizes what a return to a more normal season means for the team.
Most importantly, it means the return of fans after they weren’t allowed to attend meets last season.
“The team is so excited to welcome our friends, family and fans back inside to cheer us on in person,” said Lucas. “I can tell it ups the competitiveness of all athletes to hear the fans cheering them on.”
In that environment, the Warriors gave their fans plenty to cheer about in their second league victory of the season, a 136-129.3 win over Arlington on Jan. 19.
The Warriors were victorious in every event.
Grady led the way on vault with an 8.75, followed by an 8.35 from Yee, 8.2 from Cheyenne Toppi, and 8.15 from Paige Butland.
Wakefield took control of the meet on bars, winning the event 32.45-28.6 for a confident lead. Yee had an 8.55 on bars followed by an 8.4 from Grady and an 8.1 from Butland.
Grady took over in the final two events recording the only scores above a 9.0 in this one with a 9.2 on the balance beam and a 9.35 on floor.
Yee got an 8.7 on the beam. Emma Callahan and Brianna Cribbie rounded out the scoring on beam with identical 8.4 scores.
On floor, Grady’s 9.35 concluded the meet with plenty of hype but there were multiple other good performances leading up to it including an 8.9 from Butland, an 8.65 from Yee and an 8.5 from Sophia Anderson.
That 136 score was the second best of the season so far for the Warriors.
Their best came just two days later when they put up 136.8 but fell to a strong Burlington team who scored 138.25.
Grady (35.85) and Yee (35.05) had phenomenal all-around scores to lead their Warriors.
Grady had a 9.0 on the vault followed by an 8.55 from Yee, an 8.45 from Anderson and an 8.3 from Toppi. Wakefield won the event 34.4-34.
The Red Devils took the lead for good on bars, winning it 34.55-31.9.
Butland’s 8.4 set the pace on bars followed by an 8.3. from Yee and an 8.0 from Grady.
Wakefield was just edged on the beam led by two standout routines from Grady (9.35) and Yee (9.2). Anderson and Christina Covelle both had 8.0’s.
The Warriors won the floor routine by a score of 36.15-34.75.
Grady had an incredible 9.5 on floor followed by 8.9’s from Yee and Butland. Anderson had an 8.85 on floor.
Wakefield came up short to Wilmington/Bedford in their last meet on Wednesday by a score of 137.1-135.8.
Grady (34.8) and Yee (34.3) once again had the best all around scores of the meet.
Grady had a 9.0 on vault and on the beam.
Yee had a 9.0 on floor, one of three Warriors score at least a 9 on floor in this one. Anderson led the way with a 9.3. Butland had a 9.1.
Wakefield will get a week to prepare for an always talented Reading team who they will meet at Reading Gymnastics Academy on Wednesday at 8 p.m.