Lancers gymnasts emerge as serious contender in first year

first_imgIt did not take long for St. John Vianney to make a name for itself in Shore Conference gymnastics. In their first year on the varsity level, the Lancers will be among the favorites to compete for conference and state titles.The Lancers, who have won four of their six meets this season, put together a strong performance in their introduction to the Shore Conference’s best squads. The team’s only two losses came in meets against Colts Neck High School and archrival Red Bank Catholic (RBC) High School. The Caseys are 9-0 on the year, including a close contest with the Lancers Oct. 5. St. John Vianney lost the meet, 112.55-111.3.The upstart program saw the defeat as a sign of good things to come, given the way RBC — ranked No. 1 in some New Jersey polls — has plowed through its competition. The Caseys, led by sophomore Alex Cucich, also are coming off their first team title in 12 years at the 2014 NJSIAA championships.“I think we have a very good chance to take it,” co-head coach Tracie Vaz said of the Shore Conference championships scheduled for Oct. 31 at Brick Memorial High School. “We’re still improving. We still have a lot of room to grow.“I think it’s going to be neck and neck like when we met RBC.”All NJSIAA sectionals will take place Nov. 7, and the team championships will follow Nov. 12. The NJSIAA individual championship meet is set for Nov. 14. St. John Vianney senior Kristen Politz has emerged as the top performer on the Lancers. The Penn State University-bound gymnast gives the team a strong contender for an individual title, and her presence on the varsity roster is a big reason for St. John Vianney’s instant success. In the matchup with RBC, Politz posted the high score for either side, 38.425.“Kristen is coming from being a champion from every event and the all-around,” said Vaz, who coaches the Lancers alongside Diane Farrell, owner of Rebound Gymnastics in Marlboro.Politz, a top gymnast in New Jersey, has long trained at Rebound Gymnastics and committed to Penn State during her sophomore year at St. John Vianney.She earned the 2015 New Jersey All- Around title in March after taking first place in the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. At the Level 10 Regionals, Politz qualified to compete in the Junior Olympic Nationals that were held in May.“Kristen has some interesting things in her routine that are different from the others. You can tell she knows what she’s doing,” Vaz said. “Everything so far has been very consistent for her, and she’s extremely talented. She should do very well at Shore Conference and states.”The Lancers also have seen big contributions from two juniors, Jennifer LaPoff and Marina Pietri, and two freshmen, Ariana Agrapides and Alexandra Panetta.Vaz believes the team’s freshmen are on their way to winning more events as high school gymnasts, noting that Agrapides holds the highest uneven bars score this season. By MATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent last_img

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