SMA gymnasts win two state individual championships

Dutch squad takes second in state bronze divisionThe St. Marys Area gymnastics squad brought home a silver plaque in the PA Classic Team Championship, with two members of the squad winning gold medals. The team brought home a total of 13 medals.Bringing home individual championships were senior Michaela Sorg in the balance beam and sophomore Mackenzie Neureiter in the floor exercise.The St. Marys squad finished second in the team standings in the Bronze Division with a total of 127.441 points. Hanover won the team title with a total of 127.982, or a difference of only .541 of a point. DuBois was third with a 114.216 total and Ridgway was fourth with a 111.466 total.“This was the highest team score of the season for us. We were ecstatic with our score,” said St. Marys coach Irene McCandless.“Although the match up between the two teams was very close and a nailbiter at best, we had no clue that the team scores were going to be that close,” said McCandless. “We knew Hanover was seeded first in our division. They had a higher team average score than we did by almost three to four points.”St. Marys gave Hanover a battle for the bronze team title. Hanover edged the Dutch on vault by .699. St. Marys was able to edge Hanover on bars by 1.883 and on beam by .275, but Hanover overtook them on floor by two points.“We were still awestruck that we almost beat a team that outranked us. It was remarkable. I definitely have to say that the girls had an absolutely awesome day. They nailed every routine and gave it their all. There was nothing more that we could have asked for from the team,” said McCandless.According to the coach, a number of girls hit their career-high scores at the competition. On vault, Abby Wittman had an 8.883, Nicole Florio an 8.433 and Mackenzie Neureiter an 8.467. On bars, Florio had a 7.113, Madison Quesenberry a 7.35 and on floor Neureiter had an 8.525 and Florio an 8.3.“We couldn’t have asked for a better meet from this team. We were definitely on a high, but we were in for a real big surprise for the individual awards ceremony on Saturday evening, after all competition was complete. I knew the girls did extremely well during competition, but it was uncertain how well they fared against the other individual qualifying girls on the other teams due to the new format of the state meet,” said McCandless.St. Marys had five girls qualify for individual honors: in bronze, Michaela Sorg in the all-around, Mackenzie Neureiter in the all-around, Nicole Florio in the all-around and Cheyenne Bothun in the vault. In the silver division, Abby Wittman qualified in the all-around. The top 10 individuals were recognized in each event, giving St. Marys a total of 13 medals and two state champions.In the silver vault competition, Wittman placed third. In the bronze vault competition, Sorg was third with an 8.517, Neureiter fifth with an 8.467 and Florio seventh with an 8.433. Cheyenne Bothun placed 16th out of 37.On bars in the bronze division, Sorg was sixth with a 7.683.On beam, Sorg was the state bronze champion with an 8.125. Neureiter took second with an 8.0 and Florio placed eighth with a 7.65.On floor, Neureiter was the state bronze champion with an 8.525. Florio was seventh with an 8.3.In the all-around, Sorg was fourth with a 32.4 total, followed by Neureiter in fifth with a 32.142 total and Florio in seventh with a 31.516 total.“I was completely overjoyed. I couldn’t believe we had two state champions. I knew the girls did extremely well, but I could never have ever imagined the full extent of the outcome of the team and the girls,” said McCandless. “It is tough to get a state champion and we landed two of them. When does that ever happen? For me, I don’t think reality really sunk in until after the whole awards ceremony was over. I just kept saying over and over to myself, ‘I can’t believe this’ — two state champions and 13 medals.”Members of the 2011-2012 Dutch gymnastics squad were Michaela Sorg, Abby Wittman, Katlyn McCandless, Mackenzie Neureiter, Seana Bobenreith, Cheyenne Bothun, Nicole Florio, Ashley Krise, Marissa Pangallo, Allison Prokop, Madison Quensenberry and Jessica Tettis. Michaela Sorg is the lone senior member of the team.“The girls had something to prove this season — that they were a team worth keeping — and they fought every step of the way and they definitely proved it. Our record was 4-4, we placed third at Districts and second at the team championship with two state champions, and 13 state medals. This young and inexperienced team transformed into a competitive team. They definitely built some depth for the seasons to follow. Definitely a perfect ending of the season,” said McCandless.