STAMFORD — At previous FCIAC gymnastics championship meets, Ludlowe coach Kim Longobucco had a habit of trying to follow scores and figure out where her team stood throughout the competition.
This year, she followed the less complicated path of staying in the moment, and the results were spectacular for her Falcons.
With junior Ava Mancini claiming the all-around championship, Ludlowe captured its first FCIAC championship with a score of 134.550 Saturday at Westhill High School in Stamford. The Falcons held off several competitors who topped the 130 mark, including runner-up St. Joseph (133.950), Wilton (131.150), and Warde (130.950).
“I didn’t keep track at all,” Longobucco said of the scoring. “I didn’t watch what other teams were scoring, and we sort of just lived in the moment. Maybe that’s a new coaching thing for me. It was much less stressful and it was a nice surprise at the end.”
“We didn’t have too high of expectations, we just wanted to come in and do whatever we could do,” Mancini said. “It was great and we did really well. We had some expectations, but we were hoping to beat them and we did.”
Mancini led the Falcons as she claimed the Ro Carlucci Award as the meet’s most outstanding gymnast. Her score of 35.250 earned her the all-around championship, as she edged St. Joseph’s Schuyler Tomey, who was runner-up with a 35.000 score.
Mancini won the balance beam, despite a fall, as she scored 8.7, was third on the uneven bars (8.6), fourth on vault (9.050), and seventh in the floor exercises (8.9).
It was an unlikely championship for Mancini, as she had suffered a serious injury in December.
“I was not expecting it at all,” Mancini said. “I came into the season unprepared because I had a stress fracture in my back, so it was a rough start. I’m glad I was able to make a comeback.”
“Ava’s one of my club gymnasts who trains with me year-round, so for me, it’s very special for her to win,” Longobucco said. “I spend basically every day with Ava all year. She had an excellent day. Even with a fall on beam, she ends up winning the all-around, so that’s some pretty good talent.”
Ludlowe also had solid performances from Kristie Alianello, who scored a 32.350 and placed 11th in the all-around, and Ava Golding, who scored 32.300 and placed 12th.
Tara Chomienne, who scored 26.2 in three events, finished first on the uneven bars with a score of 8.8. She was also fourth on the beam (8.4) and fifth on the floor (9.0).
The race for first place in the all-around was tight. Following Mancini and Tomey in the top two spots were Warde’s Caroline Garrett (34.750), Wilton’s Olivia Mannino (34.150), Warde’s Tess Vincent (34.100), and Darien’s Olivia Perkins (33.850) in the top six.
Tomey won a pair of events, taking first on the vault (9.45) and the floor (9.25), while also finishing as the runner-up on the bars (8.7).
Garrett, who was third in the all-around, was strong across the boards, finishing third on beam (8.5), fifth on vault (9.0), and sixth on both the bars (8.3) and floor (8.95).
For Ludlowe, which came in as the fourth seed in the tournament, staying calm from start to finish proved to be a winning move.
“It’s exciting,” Longobucco said. “We came in calm. There have been other years where we probably should’ve won it and we didn’t win, and we put a lot of pressure on winning. This year, we said we’re going to do what we need to do, we’re going to train the way we need to train, take a deep breath and take it easy at the meet, and it worked out for us.”