Darien gymnasts move up at FCIACs

Not every gymnastics team qualified for the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference this year, but Darien did — barely.

The Wave headed into the championship meet at Westhill High School on Feb. 15 seeded seventh out of seven high schools. When the chalk dust settled, though, Darien scored 127.4 and nudged ahead of Staples (125.05) into sixth place.

Fairfield Ludlowe, which garnered 134.55 points, claimed its first FCIAC championship, with St. Joseph (133.95), Wilton (131.15), Warde (130.95), and Trumbull (128.75) rounding out the top five.

Darien coach Judy Zakim was pleased with her team’s jump in FCIAC standings.

“We had a solid meet with scores we can use to qualify for States,” Zakim said. “The competition was tough, but we held our own by earning the third-place team score on vault (34.4) and beam (32).”

The Blue Wave will next compete in the CIAC Class M championship meet, which takes place at Jonathan Law High School in Milford on Saturday, Feb. 29.

Senior co-captain Lana Schmidt and freshman Olivia Perkins both earned spots on the podium at the FCIAC meet. With an 8.2, Schmidt placed sixth on beam, while Perkins tied for fifth on bars (8.35) and on vault (9.0). Perkins’ 33.85 all-around score was good for sixth place, and Schmidt’s 32.7 placed her ninth.

Unfazed by the excitement of the championships, Wave gymnasts demonstrated their usual muscle and panache, starting with beam, one of their top events

Sophomore Sommer Schmidt turned in an elastic, balanced 8.0, while her sister Lana’s focused grace translated to the 8.2 that won her sixth place on the awards podium. Co-captain Kerry McDermott’s deliberate 7.8 split-leap tuck three-quarter also scored points for the team.

Junior Lucy Collins and sophomore Megan Cutler put their best into their floor routines, from Collins’s smooth full-and-a-half turn for a 7.7, to Cutler’s sweeping front tuck, front tuck for a 7.5. When Junior Lauren Grandon took control of the mat, her roundoff back handspring back layout added 8.15 more points to the team score.

In excellent form on vault, sophomore Maggie Russell turned in 8.3 team points, and Perkins added 9.0 more to with her somersaulting fifth-place tsuk. Tight and energized, freshman Mia MacDonald also looked great on bars.

Perkins and Lana Schmidt both earned spots on the All-FCIAC first team for their performances, while McDermott, Grandon, and Sommer Schmidt made the second team, and Russell was an honorable mention.

“I was most inspired by the self-motivated hard work that went into the practices leading up to the championship meet,” assistant coach Jessica McKinney said. “The girls’ dedication paid off as they were able to refine their routines and deliver a very strong overall team performance.”