Dutch gymnasts place second at league championships

The St. Marys Area Dutch gymnastics squad placed second at the Central Pa. Gymnastics League held Saturday at the St. Marys Area Middle School.The Bellefonte squad won the title with 137.125 points, followed by St. Marys with 129.225, Altoona 127.350, DuBois 117.875 and Ridgway 104.350.“I was very pleased with the way the team performed at this championship meet,” said St. Marys coach Irene McCandless. “They did well, although we did have some shaky moments during the meet, but the team was able to keep it together and push through and snatch the second place spot.“I knew the second-place spot was going to come down to either St. Marys or Altoona, and we were able to just nudge by Altoona on each event. We knew we would not come anywhere close to Bellefonte, and anticipated they were going to win the championship with all their club gymnasts and they, for the most part, had most of their team in the top 10 spots.” The Dutch had five gymnasts place in the top 10.Molly Eshbach placed second on vault, seventh on uneven bars, ninth on floor exercise and seventh in the all-around.Justin Huey tied for third and placed fourth on vault and fourth on bars. Michaela Sorg placed 10th on vault, 10th on beam, seventh on floor and 10th in the all-around.Bobbi Fox had her first ribbon and no-fall beam routine and was able to place ninth.Megan Longhi placed six the on beam, 10th on floor and eighth in the all-around.“I am extremely pleased at how well this team did this season, and as I have said before this was definitely one of the strongest teams that St. Marys Area has had,” said Coach McCandless. The SMA gymnasts will now be getting ready to compete at the Individual State Championships in Moon Township this weekend and the State Team Championships in Chambersburg the following week.St. Marys Area has six gymnasts who have qualified for the individual state championship - Michaela Sorg as an all-around in the bronze division and Mackenzie Neureiter in the bronze division on vault, beam and floor. In the silver division, Abby Wittman qualified on vault, Justin Huey on vault and bars, and Megan Longhi as an all-around. Molly Eshbach, who is only the second SMA gymnast to qualify and compete in the gold division, will be competing as an all-around.This will be the first time that St. Marys Area ever qualified as a silver team for the state team championships.“This division we know is going to very rough, but it is definitely an accomplishment that St. Marys can be proud of,” said McCandless.