Middle Country's Hannah Hughes competes on the balance beam, Friday,...

Middle Country's Hannah Hughes competes on the balance beam, Friday, November 4, 2022 at the Suffolk high school girls gymnastics individual championships at Connetquot High School. Credit: George A Faella

With all her accolades, it’s easy to forget that Middle Country’s Hannah Hughes is only a sophomore.

Already a state champion in vault, Hughes took first place at the Suffolk County individual gymnastics championships with an all-around score of 38.225 Friday at Connetquot High School. Connetquot’s Alexandra Melchiona came in second place with a 36.875 and Isabella Field of Bay Shore-Islip placed third with a 36.825.

“I’m very proud of myself,” Hughes said. “This one means a lot to me because I’ve come so far from last year.”

She finished with the top score in each event, posting a 9.600 on vault, 9.550 on bars, 9.475 on beam and 9.600 on floor.

At the team championship on Tuesday, Hughes also posted a 38.225 for the highest all-around score and claimed the top score in each event.

“That definitely helped me today,” Hughes said. “I was hoping I would get another all-around score of 38 or higher and I’m very happy that I got the same exact score.”

Hughes took second place at last year’s individual championship and she was determined to take the next step this year.

“Last year I was new to school gymnastics, so I was a little rusty,” Hughes said. “I was hoping that this year I would do better. I worked really hard and I ended up doing really well this time.”

“Hannah strives to make sure everything is clean,” coach Melissa Valentino added. “Being clean can be the difference between winning and losing. Some girls just want to go for the trick, but she’s not going for it unless it’s done at the level it needs to be done at.”

Hughes was unable to compete for Middle Country’s first four meets this season, but she took that time to mentor the team’s seventh graders on her own volition. She wanted to contribute to the team any way possible.

When she heads back to the state championships at Kenmore West High School on March 4, Hughes will be looking to keep adding to her resume.

“She wants more than just the vault championship this time,” Valentino said. “She really wants to be that all-around champion and she has the drive to do it.”

Hughes, Melchiona and Field will all represent Section XI at the state championships. The team will also consist of Alexa Mezzapesa, Adison Eisenberg, Julia Ciurleo, Kennedy Lyden, Bayla Goldberg, Tala Donnatin, Allison Tonry, Avery Melchiona, Jessica Bokar and Abigail Walters.

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