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Gymnastics takes first place in NCGA Regional Championship

by Carson Werner - Sports Editor
Wed, Mar 13th 2019 02:00 pm
Senior Candis Kowalik stands between her parents as she's honored in celebration of senior day.
Senior Candis Kowalik stands between her parents as she's honored in celebration of senior day.
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In every sport, a regular season holds the weight of preparing a team for the postseason, where winning matters most. Since the beginning of 2019, The College at Brockport gymnastics team has been competing, practicing and adjusting itself to walk into the playoffs at its prime. The hard work put into the season and the talent the squad possesses was put on full display during the NCGA East Regional Competition at Cortland on Saturday, March 9.

Heading into the meet, Brockport had faced all five regional opponents several times throughout the season. Of the 12 times that Brockport faced SUNY Cortland, SUNY Ithaca, Springfield College, Urisnus College or Rhode Island College, the Golden Eagles only lost once to Ithaca. In 2018 against the same teams, Brockport had a similar record except for two losses to Ithaca. However, the team placed third in the Regional Competition, despite placing higher than its regional opponents in the National Competition. This year, the team expected nothing less than a first place finish.  

“Heading into Regionals, the seniors really tried to set a positive-fun-tone while maintaining the fact that we had a job we wanted to get done, especially after last year’s third place finish at Regionals,” senior gymnast Candis Kowalik said. “We tried to keep the motto ‘we didn’t come this far to only come this far.’ It was part of a video our coach showed us last week heading into Regionals and I think that really spoke in volume to us.”

Whether it be the motivational video, last year’s angst or the result of the team’s hard work, Brockport earned an all-around team score of 193.700, which was enough to set a school record and win the NCGA Regional Competition. 

On the vault, two of Brockport’s seniors, freshly named to the NCGA All-Championship team, placed in the top four spots. Kowalik placed first in the competition with a score of 9.750 and Stephanie Mager had a three-way tie for fourth place with her performance, generating a 9.700.

On the uneven bars, sophomore Rachel Doll and senior Taylor Keough finished first and second with scores of 9.650 and 9.575. Sophomore Amy Eck and Kowalik tied for fourth with 9.500 and freshman Nicole Jackson placed tenth with 9.375, allowing Brockport to own the highest team score in the event. 

The Golden Eagles would not only capture the highest team score in the bars, but also the balance beam and floor events as well. Kowalik captured first place on her highest beam score of the year with 9.800. Following Kowalik for second place was the 2019 NCGA East Region Rookie of the Year and All-Championship team addition, freshman Alexis Castellaneta with 9.750. 

“Being a part of this team and contributing what I have is so special,” Castellaneta said. “It means a lot knowing that I have this amazing team that has treated me like family since day one support what I do. It’s honestly an amazing feeling to be able to compete with people I can call family.” 

Senior gymnast Alexis Frankowski and junior Kimberly Musall made up part of the five-way tie for third while Mager finished eighth.

On the floor, Brockport’s routines grazed by perfection, finishing with a team score of 49.300. Castellaneta finished in a three-way tie with the competition’s highest score of a 9.900. Kowalik secured another fourth spot with a score only .025 behind Castellaneta, while Keough and Musall tied for fifth with 9.850. Scoring 9.825, Mager also found herself in the top 10 with a tie for seventh place.

Following the conclusion of the events and Brockport’s victory finalized, Kowalik was recognized as the 2019 NCGA East Region Gymnast of the Year. For the duration of the 2019 campaign, the senior had consistently found herself at the top of the meet’s leaderboards. Her all-around score of 38.925 in the Regional Competition proved her dominance in the East Region by beating the second place finisher by 1.150.

The Golden Eagles will find themselves back in action on Saturday, March 23 for the NCGA National Championship in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Standing as the last journey of the season, Brockport will be losing eight seniors following the conclusion of the meet, including the team’s highest scoring gymnast, Kowalik. 

“This last trip competing for Brockport will be bittersweet for me,” Kowalik said. “I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to this team or gymnastics but I’m grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve had here at Brockport and all the memories I’ve made. The thing I’ll miss most about being a gymnast is the sport really was my escape, my happy place. But the thing I’ll miss most about being a Brockport gymnast is my team. I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls I call my sisters.”

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Taken by Vinny Croce:
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