After an eighth place finish in Class L last season, there were expectations this season that Southington could return to the glory they experienced not too long ago. After four years of rebuilding, the Lady Knights captured their ninth Class L title in school history, their first since 2015.
For second-year head coach, Cassidy Chamberland, it is her first as a coach but her second as a Lady Knight, as she contributed to Southington’s state title in 2010, as well as their runner-up finish in 2009.
It was still a new experience for the head coach, who said it was different as a player.
“I was talking to my assistant coach (Marilyn Sporbert) and we both agreed that this was more nerve-wracking than when we were out there competing at states,” Chamberland said. “We worked hard to prepare the girls for this moment and to see it all pay off is indescribable. The season started with a lot of adversity for me personally. I’m lucky to have a great assistant coach and group of girls. This team really has become like family to me and it is a season I will remember forever.”
Southington won two of the four events in the team competition to get the victory, and the Knights had two gymnasts finish with a 9.0 or better twice. Kelly Perrotti scored a 9.1 on the vault, a 9 on the bars, and an 8.8 on the floor. Kat Drechsler also scored a 9.1 on the vault, as well as a 9.075 on the beam and 8.65 on the floor.
“Kelly Perrotti especially brought her A-game this weekend and that was the meet we have been waiting for from her,” Chamberland said. “She could not have brought that performance at a better time. She had the highest AA of the entire meet with Kat at a close second.”
Natalie Reeves was a top-four scorer on the team in all four events, including 8.8 on the beam, 8.7 on the floor, and 8.55 on the vault and bars. Lizy Beaulieu scored an 8.525 on the vault while Kaylin Leifert posted an 8.425 on the beam. Taylor Kelly contributed to the scoring on the bars with an 8.05.
Chamberland said the contributions from more than just four gymnasts was a big reason why Southington is back on top.
“The athletes from last year have grown tremendously,” Chamberland said. “Kaylin, Lizy, and Natalie have all added in new skills since last year and increased the level of difficulty in their routines which has really helped the team. Then we added in more depth with Kat, Kelly, Taylor, Kelsey, Sammie and other kids from the younger crew. I really tried to promote this team as much as I could before this season began, but I never knew how much it would actually grow.”
Southington qualified as a team for the state open as they finished with the second-highest average score in the state, behind Woodstock Academy. Drechsler, Perrotti, Reeves, and Beaulieu had already qualified in individual events.
The open takes place tomorrow (March 7) at New Milford High School, beginning at 10 a.m.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Spencer Dreher, email him at Sports@SouthingtonObserver.com.