By Rich DePreta
It was a just reward for an amazing regular season.
The Trumbull High School girls gymnastics team capped a 13-0 regular season by earning the 2014 FCIAC Championship team title Saturday at the Westhill's J. Walter Kennedy Athletic Complex in Stamford.
Trumbull finished the competition with 133.950 points to edge out Fairfield Ludlowe (132.050) and three-time defending FCIAC Girls Gymnastics champion Wilton High (130.950). The Falcons were runners-up to Wilton in 2013.
"We're so excited to win this title. The girls worked so hard all year," said Trumbull head coach Celina Huber. "Going undefeated, the girls bonded together and made this happen."
Pacing the Trumbull effort was senior Linda McAuley. McAuley was crowned individual champion in the vaulting (9.45) and floor exercise (9.45) on her way to winning the all-around title with 36.10 points.
"I'm really excited. To go out as a senior and win the FCIAC All-Around title is so special," McAuley said. "But it was a proud day for all of us after capturing the team championship. It was a great reward for a group that supported each other all season. We are a team of unique personalities and positive attitudes."
And Trumbull needed every positive point to hold off runnerup Ludlowe.
"I know that every team is hurt at this point in the season. We had two girls coming off big injuries. This was the first time we had our full lineup in three weeks," said Ludlowe head coach Kim Longobucco. "All our girls did a great job."
Ludlowe lost to Trumbull and Wilton in the regular season but beat all other teams in the FCIAC.
Leading the Ludlowe effort was junior Perry Kindel. Kindel won the balance beam (9.05) and was runnerup in vaulting (9.15), floor exercise (9.10) and all-around (35.55). Kindel was the conference all-around winner in 2013. Ludlowe's Nicole Huntsman finished eighth in the all-around at 33.5 on Saturday.
"I've had a dislocated thumb. So I hadn't been practicing the last two weeks. I came in without great expectations," Kindel said. "Our whole team worked so hard today. We're very proud to be able to say we beat Wilton."
Wilton's three-year reign as FCIAC Girls Gymnastics team champion came to an end. If the Warriors had 4-peated, they would have joined the Wilton squads of 1988-91 as four-time consecutive champs.
"The team race at the top was the closest it's been in four years. We just made too many mistakes and didn't produce considering the slim margin for error," said Wilton's veteran head coach Gary Chadwick. "We were good in the floor exercise but we hurt ourselves in the other three events. Too much of the work fell on Annie (Wilton's Annie Saltarelli, 2nd on beam, 3rd on vault and floor exercise, 6th in all-around 33.75). Realistically, we can't win the FCIAC title every year. Although taking three in a row wasn't bad."
Trumbull's Tara Oliver finished fourth in the all-around at 34.0.
Darien High took fourth place in the team standings at 126.850 thanks to the work of Samantha Gunn (FCIAC champ on bars at 8.6, 5th in the all-around 33.85) and Samantha Aparicio (third in vault, floor exercise and all-around 34.45).
Greenwich High freshman Jessica Freiheit showed she has a bright future by being runner-up on bars (8.55) and seventh in the all-around (33.65).
"Our team finished in sixth place just like last year," said Greenwich head coach Sue Knight. "It was a great, great day for Jessica. She had a performance to build upon."
FCIAC GYMNASTICS Championship
At Westhill High gym
Team Scores: 1, Trumbull 133.950 points; 2, Fairfield Ludlowe 132.050 pts; 3, Wilton 130.950; 4, Darien 126.850; 5, Staples 126.200; 6, Greenwich 124.500; 7, Fairfield Warde 122.650; 8, Westhill 102.900; 9, New Canaan 92.200; 10, St. Joseph (1 gymnast) 32.850; 11, Stamford (1 gymnast) 14.200.
VAULTING: 1, Linda McAuley (Trumbull) 9.45; 2, Perry Kindel (Ludlowe) 9.15; 3, (tie) Samantha Aparicio (Darien), Nicole Huntsman (Ludlowe) 8.9; 4, (tie) Jessica Freiheit (Greenwich), Christina Brandt (Wilton) 8.75; 5, Tara Oliver (Trumbull) 8.70; 6, (tie) Samantha Gunn (Darien), Jordan Feeney (Ludlowe), Andrea Veilleux (Trumbull), Brooke Foley (Trumbull) 8.4.
UNEVEN BARS: 1, Samantha Gunn (Darien) 8.6; 2, Jessica Freiheit (Greenwich) 8.55; 3, (tie) Kathleen Piscotta (Fair. Warde) , Tara Oliver (Trumbull) 8.5; 4, (tie) Annie Saltarelli (Wilton), Samantha Aparicio (Darien) 8.45; 5, Linda McAuley (Trumbull) 8.4; 6, Nicole Kirven (St. Joseph) 8.3.
BALANCE BEAM: 1, Perry Kindel (Ludlowe) 9.05; 2, (tie) Annie Saltarelli (Wilton), Linda McAuley (Trumbull) 8.8; 3, Tara Oliver (Trumbull) 8.45; 4, Samantha Aparicio (Darien) 8.4; 5, (tie) Jessica Freiheit (Greenwich), Samantha Gunn (Darien) 8.2; 6, Kajsa Lundeen (Darien), Nicole Huntsman (Ludlowe) 8.15.
FLOOR EXERCISE: 1, Linda McAuley (Trumbull) 9.45; 2, Perry Kindel (Ludlowe) 9.1; 3, (tie) Caitlyn Briganti (Trumbull), Nicole Huntsman (Ludlowe), Annie Saltarelli (Wilton), Samantha Aparicio (Darien) 8.7; 4, (tie) Meredith Nash (Wilton), Deanna Baris (Staples), Samantha Gunn (Darien) 8.65; 5, Christina Brandt (Wilton) 8.6; 6, Kathleen Piscotta (Fair. Warde) 8.5.
ALL-AROUND: 1, Linda McAuley (Trumbull) 36.1; 2, Perry Kindel (Ludlowe) 35.55; 3, Samantha Aparicio (Darien) 34.45; 4, Tara Oliver (Trumbull) 34.0; 5, Samantha Gunn (Darien) 33.85; 6, Annie Saltarelli (Wilton) 33.75; 7, Jessica Freiheit (Greenwich) 33.65.
Highlights: Wilton had won the previous three FCIAC girls gymnastics titles.