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Gillian Murphy leads Massapequa to gymnastics team championship

Gillian Murphy of Massapequa competes on the uneven

Gillian Murphy of Massapequa competes on the uneven bars at the Nassau Gymnastics Team Championships on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Gillian Murphy was willing to overcome any obstacle to lead her team to a championship.

The Massapequa junior has never found the balance beam to be her favorite event, but whenever it’s time for the Chiefs to tackle the station, you’ll see her practicing her 360-degree spins and overall control. It’s part of the commitment that has made her dominant in the sport.

On Thursday at the Nassau gymnastics team championship, the beam was the only event she didn’t win. When she completed it, the team moved on to the floor exercise where Murphy and her teammates dominated once again to seal their second consecutive championship and cap an undefeated season with 166.55 points at Bethpage High School.

“I knew we were right around where we usually are, and I also know that floor is our best event so there was no doubt in my mind that we could pull this off,” Murphy said.

Murphy won the all-around with a 36.15, including vault (9.35) and uneven parallel bars (8.8). She tied for third in beam with an 8.675, and finished up with one more top spot on the floor exercise (9.325). It’s not just Murphy who excels at the finale. Emily Corso and Tayla Quinn each posted 9.1, Alexa LoPiano had an 8.925, Heidi Baldinger went 8.9 and Elizabeth Murphy had an 8.6.

“We do very well on floor,” Murphy said. “We really know how to show off.”

Corso said it starts with the team’s energy, and Baldinger pointed to the storied program she gets to compete for.

“Once you hear the music, it’s such a good feeling to be out there representing Massapequa,” Baldinger said.

Sewanhaka District, led by Daniella Limpert (32.5) and Michaela Ehrlein (32.45), placed second (161.4). Long Beach took third (161.25) with Allison Cohen (33.675) and Rivers Cunningham (33.625) leading the way.

The title brings coach Mike Capone’s tally to nine in 41 years at the school. And even though this is the second championship in two years, this one is a little sweeter with zero losses on the ledger — 10-0 in the regular season.

“It’s just a good feeling to be undefeated and county champs at the same time with the best team I’ve ever been with,” Corso said.

Success wasn’t always a certainty with new faces, but Murphy said younger athletes adjusted and experienced gymnasts stepped up.

“I’m really proud of us,” she said.

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