Ludlowe's Tomeo reached rare gymnastics milestones
Sophie Tomeo belongs to two elite clubs a gymnast strives for.
A senior co-captain for the Fairfield Ludlowe gymnastics team, Tomeo capped her career by breaking the 1,000-point milestone with 1,201 points and was a First Team All-FCIAC selection and made Second-Team All-State all four years at Ludlowe.
"I'm really excited about it and I didn't think I'd have so many points," says Tomeo. "I also worked hard in practice throughout my high school career and it's been a lot of fun. The coaches have been supportive and made the difference."
Falcons Coach Kim Longobucco, who is in her second year piloting the squad, was happy to have Tomeo on the team.
"Sophie is a year round dedicated gymnast and her hard work in the gym helps her compete with confidence both at high school and club meets," says Longobucco. "Sophie has been a leader on our team since her freshman year. She has competed all around since her very first meet in 2007. She helps organize team functions and keeps the girls focused on the end goal, making FCIACs and states. Sophie is extremely bright and the younger gymnasts really look up to her."
Floor exercise is Tomeo's favorite routine. She especially perfected her layout, front tuck, roundoff, back handspring, back tuck.
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"I always liked tumbling and it's the most fun of all four events," says Tomeo. "I like that I can have my own routine and incorporate my own style into it.
Combining powerful moves with a graceful demeanor enabled Tomeo to perform an elegant and clean routine on floor.
"I spent the most time on floor in practice," says Tomeo. "I presented my routine as best as I could and I tried to be clean and stretch out my poses. When I started to compete, I focused on all aspects of my routine and not just tumbling. I work hard to make the dance look nice so I can present the dance nicely."
Her floor music is a medley mix by Samsara and it was originally sung by Black Violin.
"It goes well with my routine on floor," says Tomeo. "It's graceful music but it's more upbeat and it goes with the tumbling."
Nerves have the tendency of getting the best of a gymnast on floor because of the potential to slip or step out of bounds. Tomeo uses these butterflies to her advantage.
"I used to be a lot more nervous in the beginning of my career but I have been excited since then," says Tomeo. "I go out there and try to do my best, which makes it a rewarding experience."
The balance beam is her second favorite routine. Tomeo minimized her falls and especially thrived with her cartwheel roundoff series and front tuck dismount.
"It's more of a challenge because I'm trying new things while I'm off the ground," says Tomeo. "I like the challenge. I try to focus hard and block out things around me and think about my routine. Beam takes a lot of concentration and I have to focus on what I'm doing and not let the nerves get to me."
Another event Tomeo likes is the uneven bars. She especially perfected her uprises and free hips on bars.
"Bars is about strength and the timing of your tricks and it's mostly a lot of practice," says Tomeo. "If you do the tricks you are confident in, they are not dangerous."
Both bars and beam have their pitfalls and they require different skills and mindsets.
"I think beam is a lot scarier and bars take a lot of strength," says Tomeo.
Although vault isn't her favorite, Tomeo normally scores high in it by executing and sticking her half on, half vault. She displays a lot of power and speed in going down the runway, which enables her to vault high.
"I try to use as much power as I can and I work hard in practice," says Tomeo.
Life on the mat began for her at age five when her babysitter Beth Cerny, who ironically became Ludlowe's first-ever gymnastics coach in the winter of 2005. At the time, Cerny was a student at Fairfield High School.
"One of my babysitters did gymnastics and I was always very little," recalls Tomeo. "[Cerny] thought I had a gymnastics body. I was excited watching her do handstands in the backyard and I tried to give it a try."
In addition to competing for the Falcons, Tomeo competes for Polly's, a club team in Stratford in USAG meets, year-round. This prevents her from getting rusty.
"Because the high school season is only during the winter, Polly's has helped me improve because it's year-round," says Tomeo.
The 5-4 Tomeo also never did another sport, which enabled her to focus on becoming the best possible gymnast she could become.
Leadership is another strength of Tomeo's because she served as captain this year. She leads by example through her work ethic and verbally by taking charge and cheering on her teammates.
"It was being captain and serving as a role model for the younger kids," Tomeo says. "I enjoyed having them look up to me."
Academically, she was made the Academic All-State teams this year and was an Academic All-American junior year. Math is her favorite subject.
"I make sure to balance my time," says Tomeo. "I leave time for both and it worked out well."
Although Ludlowe's season is over, Tomeo is still competing for Polly's. Next year, she will attend Bucknell University and major in either economics or math.
Bucknell doesn't have a gymnastics team, which means her varsity career is likely over.
"It's going to be really hard not to do gymnastics because I did it my whole life and I'll miss it a lot," says Tomeo.
Tomeo chose Bucknell because it fits her academic needs. She hopes to start a club gymnastics team. With her determination, it could happen because her never-say-die attitude helped her thrive on the mat.
The Falcons will miss Tomeo.
"Seeing Sophie go is bittersweet for me," says Longobucco. "Sophie is my first, four-year gymnast graduating, I starting coaching [as an assistant] in 2007[-08] when she was a freshman. Sophie will surely succeed in anything she puts her mind too. Her smile and sense of humor will be greatly missed on our team next year."