Olivia O'Connor entered Saturday's State Gymnastics Championships focused more on the Section XI team score than on herself. The Bay Shore senior was competing in the fifth and final state meet of her career, and she wanted to make it memorable.
In her first event, the vault, O'Connor sprinted to the board with one thing on her mind.
Latest HS sports stories
"I just wanted to hit and get the best score for my team," she said "I wasn't really worried about my score; my mentality was just to focus on the team and not worry about myself as much."
O'Connor exploded off the board, flipped, twisted and stuck the landing on her Yurchenko Tuck Half to earn a score of 9.850, which set a state record and earned her State Public and Federation gold medals.
"When I found out it was a new record, there are no words to describe how I felt," O'Connor said. "It was crazy!"
She added: "What more could I ask for? It was a great day for me personally and for my whole team as well. We all did really well today."
O'Connor also won the State Public Championship on bars, which she also won in 2010, with a score of 9.675 to end her career with three state championships. She also took fourth on beam (9.250), tied for fourth in the floor exercise (9.5) and finished second in the all-around with a score of 38.275. She will be competing for the College of William and Mary in the fall.
"I'm so happy," she said. "I love gymnastics with my whole heart and to go out on such a high note with my team is so amazing. I'm just so grateful for everything."
Section XI finished second in the team competition with a score of 181.975 and received outstanding performances from its younger gymnasts. Miller Place eighth-grader Jordan Ceccarini took second in the floor exercise (9.6) and sixth in the all-around (36.8) and Ward Melville freshman Cydney Crasa took third on the vault (9.725), second on the beam (9.425) and third in the all-around (37.675).
Wantagh senior Brianna Quinn led the Section VIII contingent, taking third on bars (9.4), tying for fourth with O'Connor in the floor exercise (9.5) and finishing fourth in the all-around (37.1).
"I came in pumped up for the meet, I just had to do what I do best," said Quinn, who will be competing at the University of Bridgeport in the fall. "I'm gonna miss high school gymnastics and all my teammates, but I'm very excited to be competing in college."
Section VIII finished fourth in the team competition with a score of 178.175.
Plainview JFK seventh-grader Jessica Lopez also had a strong showing, taking third on beam (9.405) to earn a medal in her first appearance in the state meet.
"It feels really good because I worked really hard this year," Lopez said. "I just want to keep working hard and keep improving."
Said Plainview JFK coach Debbie Rut: "She always gives 110 percent. Hard work leads to success, and she has the potential to be at the top of the podium multiple times over her career."