Middle Country freshman Hannah after her 9.7 in the vault...

Middle Country freshman Hannah after her 9.7 in the vault at state championship at Kenmore West in Buffalo on March 5. Credit: James Escher

Newsday Gymnast of the Year: Hannah Hughes, Middle Country, Fr.

The wait was long, but Hughes really didn’t care. After completing the Suffolk gymnastics season in the fall, the freshman had to wait until March to suit up for the state championships, which are held after sections that compete in the winter have finished their seasons.    

Any rust was microscopic. Thanks to a rigorous club team schedule, Hughes was ready to go and proved it with a state championship on the vault, scoring a 9.70.

“I tried not to think about it too much to get me nervous,” Hughes said of the long layoff. “I just focused on working hard.”

Hughes, who competes for Middle Country and attends Newfield, was Long Island’s only gymnastics state champion and is Newsday’s Gymnast of the Year.  

As she waited for the big show, Hughes was hard at work, training with Hotshots Gymnastics in Plainview.

“I was in the gym, working hard,” she said. “And I was doing club meets to get me ready.”

When it came time to win a state title, Hughes didn’t miss.

“I was more confident and I ran faster,” Hughes said of the winning vault. “I was focusing on the landing, to stick it.”

Hughes came within a point of winning an all-around state championship as well. She was second with a 37.725, placing sixth on beam (9.425) and floor (9.4) and seventh on bars (9.2). After coming so close to the biggest prize in the meet, the goal for her sophomore year are clear — take it home.

“That’s what I’m aiming for,” she said.

In the fall, Hughes placed second in the all-around at the Suffolk Individual Championships.

“She’s a hard worker and she shows off her hard work very well,” Middle Country coach Melissa Valentino said. “She’s someone who is known to finish, or stick, every one of her skills . . . She has a lot of potential. I don’t think this is the end. I believe we’re going to see a lot more from her. This was just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot of skill behind this girl.”

Pictured, from left: Leah Chin and Allie Jacobs of Syosset, Riley McPartland of Sachem. 

Leah Chin, Syosset, Fr.

She was 13th in the all-around at the state championships, scoring a 35.45. Chin tied for 10th on bars (9.0), tied for 12th on vault (9.15), tied for 20th on beam (8.7), and tied for 27th on floor (8.6).  Her performances helped Nassau place fifth in the sectional competition with a 175.725. She was second in the all-around (36.325) at the Nassau individual championships/state qualifier in February.

Allie Jacobs, Syosset, Sr.

Jacobs was the second-highest Nassau finisher in the state championship all-around competition. She was 11th overall with a 35.675 and tied for ninth on the floor (9.275), was 13th on the beam (8.95), 15th on the bars (8.425) and 16th on the vault (9.025). She was third in the all-around (35.900) at the Nassau individual championships/state qualifier in February.

Riley McPartland, Sachem, Soph.

She was ninth in the all-around at the state championships, posting a 36.4 —  the second-highest Suffolk finisher. McPartland tied for seventh on the floor (9.35), finished eighth on the beam (9.35), and tied for 10th on the vault (9.2). She won the vault at the Suffolk Individual championships in November, posting a 9.325 and was third in the all-around (35.75).  

Pictured, from left: Alexandra Melchiona of Connetquot, Shani Sirota of Roslyn.

Alexandra Melchiona, Connetquot, Jr.

She was fantastic in the fall. Melchiona was the Suffolk Individual all-around champion, notching a 37.125 at the November event. She won the beam (9.4), the bars (9.15), and the floor (9.275). She was second in the vault (9.3). At the state championships, Melchiona was 10th in the all-around (36.275). She was fifth on the vault (9.4) and ninth on the beam (9.1).

Shani Sirota, Roslyn, Sr.

She’s the dominant force in Nassau, and has been for quite some time. Sirota won her third straight all-around title at the Nassau individual championships/state qualifier in February. She scored a 37.80 and won all four events. The senior scored a 9.525 on the vault, 9.45 on the bars, 9.5 on the beam, and 9.325 on the floor. Sirota followed that up with an eighth place finish in the all-around (36.725) at the state championships, where she was fourth on the vault (9.475) and fifth on the floor (9.425).

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