Plainview JFK wins Nassau I crown

Melissa Kropf of Plainview JFK High School performs

Melissa Kropf of Plainview JFK High School performs her balance beam routine during a varsity gymnastics meet vs. Bethpage. (Feb. 1, 2012) (Credit: James Escher)

With the Nassau I gymnastics title and an undefeated season hanging in the balance, Plainview JFK's performance on beam made the difference.

Melissa Kropf, Jordan Sack, Katrina Migliorini and Victoria Vitale all scored 9.0 or higher in the event as JFK edged rival Bethpage, 171.75-168.15, to win the regular-season conference championship for the fourth consecutive season.

"We're really proud of everyone," Kropf said. "We worked really hard and stepped it up today."

Sack won the all-around with a 35.65, Kropf tied Bethpage's Alexis Fraher for second with a 34.95 and Vitale was next at 34.2. Kropf was the only gymnast to win multiple events, taking beam and floor with season-best scores of 9.4 and 9.3, respectively.

Kropf appeared sharp and agile in her floor routine and connected two back handsprings on beam, a move she said she's worked on all season and finally was able to land Wednesday night.

"I've been working really hard to get my score higher on beam, doing my connection and making sure that I get credit for it," Kropf said. "Floor is my best event and I always feel confident because I've been working on the same skills for the past few years."

Fraher excited her Bethpage teammates and spectators with her performance on bars, winning with 9.0. She smoothly transitioned from one bar to the other, and launched herself into a midair tumble that she landed perfectly with a smile. "I just stuck to my [routine]," she said.

Plainview JFK and Bethpage each posted its highest team score this season.

Plainview JFK and Bethpage were a combined gymnastics program that dominated Nassau for decades until they split four years ago and became independent teams. Plainview coach Debbie Rut and Bethpage coach Kim Rhatigan both described their rival school as its "sister program," a sentiment echoed by their gymnasts.

"We always want to win, but we also want [Plainview] to do really well," Fraher said.

Said Kropf: "It's a lot of fun because it doesn't feel like a regular meet. We cheer for each other, and no matter who wins we're happy for each other. We hope we both do the best we can."

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