Manchester gymnasts kick-off season with multi-team meet in Derry

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DERRY, NH —  Gymnasts from Manchester Central, Manchester Memorial and Trinity High got their first taste of competition in the 2021-22 season, participating in a 9-team meet, Thursday afternoon at the Palestra Gymnastics Academy.

In fact, for many of the Central and Memorial gymnasts, it was the first competition of any type in several years, according to Carol Rzasa, who coaches both squads.

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“I only have one (gymnast) who was on the high school team before, the rest are all new to me. Today, I think the girls did great, considering some of them haven’t competed in four or five years,” said Rzasa. “I had several who were very nervous, but they all did fantastic, even the ones who haven’t competed in four years.”

Pinkerton Academy turned in the top team score of the meet with 135.5 points. The Astros were followed by Bedford (128.8) and Pelham (115.1).

With just five athletes competing from Memorial and three from Central, the Manchester schools don’t have the ability to compete against the top teams in the state. Rzasa sees these meets as a chance for her gymnasts to compete against themselves, while building the program. The athletes look to improve performance on each apparatus, refining routines and adding new skills.

“They go meet to meet and try to improve at each meet,” said Rzasa. “They’ll work on individual skills (in practice) and when they have them solid, we’ll put them in (their routine) and see how they do.”

Memorial’s Madison Stumpf turned in her squad’s top performance of the day, scoring an 8.75 in the floor exercise. Memorial’s Avah Page earned an 8.0 on the floor, while Central’s Taryn Ducherme earned a 7.95.

Central’s Zoe Demers had an excellent routine on the beam, scoring an 8.2. Ducherme and Stumpf both earned scores of 7.7. Angeline Garand of Trinity also scored a 7.7.

On the uneven bars, it was Trinity’s Garand recording to the top score among the local athletes with a 7.7. Stumpf earned a 7.1. Trinity’s Sophia Bouchard scored a 5.9 and Central’s Keira Mercer earned a 5.8.

On the vault, Demers led the locals with a 7.55, with Page right behind with a 7.5. They were followed by Mercer and Stumpf (both 7.45), Ducherme (7.2), Memorial’s Ailish Hodgkins (8.7) and Bouchard (6.05).

The Manchester gymnasts will return to competition on Jan. 6 at a multi-team meet in Windham.


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Bill Gilman

Bill Gilman is a veteran journalist with 33 years of experience covering community news and sports in New England. He and his wife have two grown sons and two perfect granddaughters.