Published March 3, 2021
By DAN PAWLOWSKI
WAKEFIELD — It’s hard to describe what the nine seniors on the Wakefield High gymnastics team mean to the program. First off, its the largest number of seniors in the history of the team. It’s a group that decided to join a squad that was just struggling to survive four years ago. Captains Lola Barrett, Courtney Collins, Giana Liotine and Jessie Maffe along with Georgia Lamarre, Ava Licciardi, Nicole Miller, Ashlyn Olson and Alana Willis made an instant impact.
The Warriors hadn’t won a meet in 10 years until this group were freshmen. In their last four seasons, Wakefield has went a combined 21-6, continuously breaking school records, going to sectionals every year and having gymnasts consistently qualify for state individuals and New England’s.
Head coach Rachel Lucas and assistant Meg Delory certainly have plenty of credit owed to them for their leadership, not coincidently starting their first year in the 2017-18 season in which the Warriors shocked the league with the class of ‘21 as freshmen by snapping the decade-long drought and going 4-3 that season and 7-1 the next year.
“It is hard for me to believe it’s been four years since Meg and I started coaching this team,” said Lucas. “This team may not even be here without this senior class. They all joined a failing program with two coaches they didn’t know and had never heard of. It means the world to us that these athletes trusted us enough four years ago to join the team and give us a chance. Look how far we’ve come.”
Collins, who as a seventh grader signed up to compete along with just a few other gymnasts, helped bridge the gap and two years later, Lucas and Delory went to work on improving the gymnastics room at Wakefield High while envisioning the success that nobody could have seen.
Much of that vision was due to the promise they saw in their group of freshmen. It was a talented group, no doubt, but they had something else too. They were dedicated to the team; they had a drive to get better; they cared about the success of each other more than themselves and they had a ton of fun along the way.
Now, it’s not hyperbole to call the Warriors the new powerhouse of the Middlesex League.
“We have made a name for ourselves in the league and we have this graduating class to thank for it,” said Lucas. “They will be so sincerely missed – not only their amazing talent as gymnasts but their smiling faces, humor and the joy they have brought to this team.”
The seniors were honored in their last meet on Feb. 20 at WMHS, defeating Arlington by a score of 140.5-132.
Wakefield won each event on their way to a 5-1 record during this strange season.
The Warriors kicked things off with a 35.05-33.95 win on vault. Barrett, who would go on to record the highest score in each event for Wakefield in this one, started her day with a 9.05 on vault, tied for her best score of the season. Liotine got second with a score of 9.0 her season-best. Molly Grady (8.9) and Licciardi (8.1) finished up the scoring. Maffe (7.9) and Collins (7.8) also had solid routines.
Wakefield pulled away from the Spartans on bars, winning 34.9-29.7. Barrett’s 9.0 was the best of the day. Lamarre had a strong 8.7, her best of the season, followed by an 8.65 from Sydney Yee and an 8.55 from Liotine. Olson also had a good performance on bars.
Lamarre and Barrett both stole the show on the beam where they each scored a 9.0. Lamarre’s 9.0 was also a season-best. Collins had her best routine of the day getting an 8.7 on beam and Grady finished up the scoring with an 8.2.
Barrett concluded her fantastic gymnastics career with another incredible floor routine, this time scoring a 9.3. The Warriors had six floor competitors score over an 8.0 in this one as Liotine (8.85), Lamarre (8.8), Licciardi (8.7), Maffe (8.3) and Willis (8.1) all finished up their gymnastics careers in style.
Wakefield gymnastics won’t soon forget the class of 2021, a class that without any doubts, earned the title of the greatest in Warrior gymnastics history.
“It’s hard for us to imagine walking into this gym without seeing their smiling faces but we are so excited to see all the amazing things these girls will do with the next chapter of their lives,” said Lucas.