by Andrew Garda

The Montclair High School gymnastics team stumbled a bit in its initial meet, as it lost to Holy Angels, Demarest by an overall score of 102.825 to 96.55. Overall, the Mounties performed well, with Naja John taking second in the All-Around with a score of 33.4 and Victoria De La Rosa ending up in fourth with a total score of 32.35.

Unfortunately for MHS, three Holy Angels athletes placed in the All-Around score, snagging first, third and fifth place.

Four events make up the All-Around score — vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercises — with five members (though not necessarily the same five) from each team competing in each event.

A pair of judges grades each performance — in the case of vault, each athlete gets two attempts — and the top three averages combine for an event total.

The meet began with the vault, which De La Rosa won with a score of 8.9. John took third with an 8.7, just missing out on second place to Holy Angels’ Ashley Thompson, who scored an 8.75. Holy Angels took the next two spots to round out the top five scores.

Next up was the uneven bars, where the athletes showed off some intense agility and strength as they flew from one bar to the other. De La Rosa took second with an 8.7, just behind Holy Angels’ Faith Furletti’s 8.8. John was once again in third place, this time with a final score of 8.5, and Holy Angels again placed athletes in fourth and fifth.

Balance beam was a rough spot for the Mounties, and likely where the meet slipped away from them. Holy Angels took the top three spots with strong performances by Furletti, Thompson and Kendall Williams with scores of 9.2, 8.375 and 8.2 respectively. John landed in fourth place with a score of 7.3 and Montclair’s Gabby Martin took fifth with a 7.275.

Finally, it was time for floor exercises. To the casual observer, floor exercises may seem simpler, and perhaps easier, than other events. After all, both the uneven bars and beam require incredible balance and timing, and both the vault and bars require a lot of upper body strength.

But Coach Kaitlin Schulz said during the preseason that the floor exercise is actually one of the hardest disciplines, because it involves so many different things.

With each of the other three events, you focus on a few elements. With the floor exercise, you are combining most of what you do in all three of the other events and execute them all.

It also requires the girls to show timing and some more dance-related moves, as the routine is put to music.

John and De La Rosa both executed their routines beautifully, but by the end of the event, the judges felt that Faith Furletti and her sister, Shannon, had done cleaner programs. Faith won the floor exercise with a score of 9.125 while Shannon was just behind her with a score of 9.075. John took third with a score of 8.775, and De La Rosa’s 8.375 was behind Holy Angels gymnast Kathryn Welch who scored a 8.425.

The Mounties were not deterred by the loss, however, and rebounded with a solid win against Indian Hills, Oakland on Friday, Sept. 15. MHS defeated the Braves by an overall score of 97.3 to 90.675.

Mountie Amelia Tuchmann was the only gymnast to score in all categories, and so won the All-Around with 31 points.

Top scorers in each event were De La Rosa in the vault with a score of 8.825, John in the uneven bars with a score of 8.75, Tuchmann with an 8.275 in the beam and Indian Hills’ Danielle White with a 9.15 in floor exercises, with John and De La Rosa the highest-scoring Mounties, taking second and third.

MHS next will compete in West Milford on Friday at 5 p.m.