The gymnastics team improved its score in each meet.
It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish — and the Whitman-Hanson Regional High gymnastics team finished strong, in its first year standing on its own.
Despite an 0-12 overall record, the Panthers showed significant growth. They opened the winter with a score of 118 and closed it with a 126.
“Overall we were happy with our progress this season,” said first-year head coach Alison Vance, who won the Patriot League’s Coach of the Year. “Each meet our team score improved and personal bests kept getting higher and higher.”
The Panthers’ improvement on the score sheet can largely be attributed to four of their vaulters, who upgraded their difficulty as the season wore on.
“Our vault scores, for the beginning of the season, were averaging around a 32.6,” Vance said. “By the end of the season, we were averaging a 34.5.”
Senior captain Sarah Bombardier was a constant for W-H, finishing the winter with a team-high vault average of 8.65.
“She is a hard worker and a great leader,” Vance said of Bombardier, the team’s lone senior. “She is always willing to try anything to help improve the team score. We were so lucky to have her lead this team. She will be greatly missed.”
Junior Savannah Poirier proved to be a pleasant surprise for W-H. After taking her sophomore year off to do winter cheer, Poirier came back to gymnastics and averaged a team-high 8.2 on the floor.
“We were so thankful that she joined us,” Vance said of Poirier, who will captain the Panthers next season alongside rising senior Madison Scaccia. “Not only did she consistently put up our highest floor score, she filled a void we had on the bars. She upgraded her skills every week.”
Freshman Riley Getchell was another standout, concluding the season with an 8.15 average on the vault.
“She was very consistent on all of her events, especially the vault and beam,” Vance said. “She worked hard to upgrade her difficulty to improve her scores and it paid off. It is tough coming in as a freshman and competing in the all-around, but Riley is very experienced and did it well.”
Vance said her team’s strength was its positive attitude regardless of how the results fell, which led to them winning the Patriot League Sportsmanship Award.
“We were excited and thankful to receive this unexpected award,” Vance said. “We knew we were coming into this league behind the other teams that have been established with their coaching staff for so many years. We just kept our spirits up and worked on improving ourselves each week.”
While Vance said it’s going to be tough losing Bombardier, a four-year gymnast, she is looking forward to seeing how the program develops.
“The team is doing a good job of getting the word out to the eighth graders about our program,” Vance said, “so we are hopeful we can make up for the loss of Sarah by the start of next season. I am also very confident in the leadership of our new captains, Madison and Savannah.”