Ludlowe junior Perry Kindel's ultimate goal for the 2013-14 gymnastics season was to qualify for the New England Championships and to become the first Falcons' gymnast to reach that level of competition. By placing in a tie for third on the balance beam at the State Open on March 8 in New Milford, Kindel qualified for the regional championshps at Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, Mass., on March 15.
Once she made it the New Englands, Kindel said, her goal became to claim a medal. She did that, too, last Saturday by finishing third on the beam with a score of 9.5. The top six placers in each event were named All-New England. Her best-ever score on the beam, with different judges from those assigned to the New Englands, was a 9.55 on Jan. 23 at Wilton in an FCIAC regular-season meet.
A nagging injury, dislocating her thumb in February, was not a factor last weekend because she avoided the precautionary measure of taping it for support. Pain was not completely gone, she reported, but it did not affect her routine.
Corey Bennett, of the Medfield/Ashland/Dover-Sherborn co-op team in Massachusetts, won the event with a score of 9.575, and Alexandra Rothstein, of Southington, was just a tad better to earn second place with a 9.55. Meghan French, of Shelton, who trained with Ludlowe this season, and Sammie LeMire, of Hale Ray, each scored 9.475 to share fourth place. Bree Husong, of State Open champion Woodstock Academy, took sixth place with her 9.45.
Kindel competed in the morning session last Saturday, which ended with her standing in third, so she and coach Kim Longobucco had to wait through the afternoon competition to learn whether her 9.50 would stand up for Kindel to have earned a medal. It did.
For Kindel, her goal to a successful score was to stay on the beam and not fall, which would result in an automatic deduction of points. But since Kindel rarely falls off the beam, the key was something else, Longobucco said.
"It's the accuracy of her skills, and with a score that high, it's a matter of perfection of every skill on the beam," Longobucco said.
Anxiety and other emotions that can raise doubt were not issues for Kindel in Massachusetts. "I saw a lot of girls who I knew were better than me, so it took the nerves away," Kindel said. "I completely forgot to tape up; it was not on my mind."
Kindel added third-place at the New England Championships to her earlier accomplishments this winter: second (35.55) in the all-around (all four events) at the FCIAC Championships on Feb. 15, after winning it as a sophomore in 2013; second (9.15) on the vault at the FCIACs; winning the beam at the conference meet with a 9.05; runner-up on the floor at the FCIACs with a 9.1; third (9.2) on the beam at the State Open; 13th (35.9) in the all-around at the State Open.
Earlier this season, Kindel was named first team All-FCIAC and first team All-State.
She helped the Falcons to second place at the FCIAC meet and third place among eight qualifying teams at the Class L Championships on March 1 at Pomperaug High School in Southbury.
Longobucco said Kindel will take a week off from her year-round gymnastics involvement for some rest. Kindel has competed with the Darien YMCA team during the high school off season for the past six or seven years. As a club gymnast, she has earned All-America honors.
Kindel began with gymnastics as a 5 or 6 year old while living in Richmond, Va., after moving there from Westport.