Few folks who were in attendance for the 2015-16 state girls’ gymnastics championship meet at Londonderry High School early this year will forget it or its final outcome. And that day will certainly sit right in the front of the memories of LHS coach Heather Tuden and her Lady Lancers.
Tuden’s talented troop ended the two-year title streak of the arch-rival Pinkerton Academy Lady Astros that day, and it did so in dramatic fashion. The host team tallied an overall score of 137.80 to Pinkerton’s 137.75 to win the second state crown in program history by mere percentage points.
The Lady Lancers lost some talented athletes from that championship squad, but the defending state champs still return a bunch of battle-tested stalwarts who are intent on keeping their squad on top of the state gymnastics heap.
Back from that 23-2, crown-capturing crew are important contributors and seniors Camille Lamont (balance beam and floor exercise) and Taylor MacKenzie (vault, uneven bars, and floor), juniors Courtney Baharian (vault, beam, and floor), and Mira Kutney (all-around competitor), and sophomores Maddie Croteau (all-around), Seana Kelly (vault, bars, and beam), and Suzie Moore (vault, beam, and floor).
Other returnees from the title team include juniors Gianna DelViscovo (vault, beam, and floor) and Tyla Kelley (vault and beam), and sophomore Tara Nigro (vault, bars, and floor).
Coach Tuden also has several new faces on her 2016-17 squad, and they’ll aim to assist the cause as much as possible.
“Cassidy Williams and Chelsea Pinet are both strong club gymnasts and will help the team on all events, and Marissa McKay and Janiah Bergendahl will help us on beam and floor,” said the coach.
Tuden didn’t want to go too far toward predicting what might happen during the new campaign – which Londonderry will get officially under way at home next Monday the 12th against Bedford, Bow, and Goffstown – but she obviously knows she has plenty of talent in her deep ranks.
“The keys to a successful season are always keeping the girls healthy and getting all our requirements completed,” she said. “We have a lot of depth this year, but we are also making up for losing two of our all-arounds. As coaches, (assistants) Rachel Blais and Emily Panacopoulos and I will work hard on building the girls’ skill level and ensuring they are ready for every meet this year.”
And in looking at the competition her charges will face this winter, coach Tuden saw no shortage of quality opponents.
“Pinkerton is always one of the top teams in the state, and with our breaking their winning streak last year they will be working harder than ever to get back on top. Other top teams include Hollis-Brookline, Salem, and Windham,” said the veteran LHS mentor, herself a former Lady Lancer gymnast.