Hannah Hughes of Middle Country turns to the judges after...

Hannah Hughes of Middle Country turns to the judges after vaulting in the NYSPHSAA gymnastics state championship meet at Kenmore West High School in Buffalo on March 5. Credit: James Escher

If you ask Hannah Hughes if she is the best at anything on any given day, you will hear an adamant “no”. She may be her toughest critic.

But at Kenmore West High School in Buffalo at the state gymnastics championships, Hughes certainly was the best.

Hughes took home the NYSPHSAA gymnastics state championship in vault after earning a personal-best score of 9.70. The Middle Country freshman performed the Yurchenko layout and was rewarded with a spot at the top of the podium.

“I knew that was a really big score and I figured that I was going to at least be up there after I saw it,” Hughes said. “It feels great, I love being a champion; I work really hard, so I’ve earned this.”

Hughes closed out the Suffolk season with an all-around second-place finish in the Suffolk Individual championship. That finish sent her off to compete for a state championship, where she would again finish in second place all-around.  

“Even though I got second, in my head I knew it wasn’t my best meet,” Hughes said. “I knew I could’ve done better.”

It’s safe to say she accomplished her mission. She earned a 9.40 on floor exercise, a 9.20 on bars and a 9.425 on beam to finish with an all-around score of 37.725. A masterful vault anchored her day.

“We went with the Yurchenko layout because it has a start value of 10.0,” coach Melissa Valentino said. “She vaulted and stuck it, didn’t move, solid and I couldn’t expect anything better.”

If you ask Hughes who has played the biggest part in her success, she will say her mother, Paula, without hesitation.

“She goes to every competition with me, she goes to the meets, she does my hair, and drives me to practice every day.” Hughes said.

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