|Tali Twomey (right) was beaming after a stellar performance on the balance beam.|
Barnstable wins state gymnastics title
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WORCESTER — Fifteen-year-old Jillian Fraser finished off the girls’ gymnastics team state championship on Wednesday night like a dream: Under the bright lights of the DCU Center, with all the pressure on and a chance to show off.
Entering the final exercise 0.975 points behind Nauset, Barnstable needed to capitalize with dazzling performances on the floor. Fraser finished it cleanly, twisting and dancing her away around the mat, landing every jump while adding a flashy smile for the judges.
Fraser was awarded a 9.325 as Barnstable roared back with a 37.1 team score on the floor, a meet-high, to capture its ninth state title in 13 years. The top-seeded Red Raiders finished with 146.65 points, just ahead of second-place Sharon (145.35) and third-place Nauset (144.175).
“I was freaking out,” said Fraser, a sophomore who finished fifth overall with 37.05 points. “I was shaking. Coach [Duncan Chase] said, ‘Do what you always do and don’t get nervous.’
“It’s unbelievable. I’ve never competed on platform before, but it was awesome.”
Barnstable, the favorite after scoring 147.25 points to win the South sectional, took a lead after two exercises, scoring 37.075 on the vault and 37.05 on the bars thanks to Fraser’s 9.575-point performance that was second only to her eighth-grade teammate, Lauren Hansen (9.625).
Fraser’s routine, with a swing-turn over to a jump-shoot, was extremely difficult to pull off, Chase said. She only hits it about 50 percent of the time.
“It’s a tough bar routine,” said Chase, in his 14th year as head coach. “The thing about Jillian is she’s very clean. She’s very competitive, very clean, and shows it off.
“Yeah, she was nervous on the floor. But she saw the scores come up and just had to show it off. That’s a good thing about being seeded No. 1 — you get to show it off on floor.”
The Red Raiders were hoping the floor routine would save them after another devastating performance on the balance beam, where they posted a 35.425, good for sixth out of eight teams.
“Sectionals was the same way,” Chase said. “They were very nervous on the beam. They had the same problem in sectionals. It’s scary, 4 feet in the air. I could see it in their eyes. When one started falling they all did. It’s tough.”
Freshman Tali Twomey also shined for Barnstable, with 36.75 points overall, including a 9.45 score on the vault.
Nauset entered the final round with the lead after Kimberly Stewart awed on the vault with a 9.8 score on a wild jump that was rewarded with an immediate hug from coach Jen Watkins. But Nauset, too, faulted on the beam, posting a meet-low 33.75 as its title hopes drifted away. Stewart was the top overall competitor Wednesday, finishing with 37.825 points.
Sharon’s Samantha Kaplan was electric across all four exercises, coming in second overall with 37.725 points while scoring at least a 9.35 in each round.