Before Wednesday’s meet against Sewanhaka District, Massapequa gymnastics coach Mike Capone dedicated a few minutes to his seniors. The night would belong to one of them.
Gillian Murphy placed first in the all-around with a 35.30, her fourth consecutive win, and also swept the vault (9.10), uneven bars (8.80) and floor (9.40) as Massapequa (9-1) somersaulted to a 168.45-157.05 win in Nassau I.
It was Massapequa’s last meet at McKeena Elementary School, its home turf. No longer would the seniors be required to tape the mats together or remind their parents to turn off the flash for photos.
“The only way I can describe this meet is weird,” Murphy said. “Coming back year after year, competing in the same gym on the same equipment with these girls . . . It’s going to be weird not coming back to this next year.”
After sticking the last tumble on the floor, Murphy smiled and heard cheers.
“My seniors are really important to me, and I hope they go on to be as successful as I know they can be,” Capone said. “I can shoot the girls a look and they know whether they did good or bad. Even though I might not show it, I am very emotional.”
Murphy, Alexa LoPiano, Emily Corso and Julianna Cowan were honored before the meet with balloons and roses. “It’s a bittersweet moment,” Corso said. “It’s been a privilege to compete with all of these girls.”
Corso placed second on vault (8.65) and floor (9.20). Jenny Mullan was first on beam (8.50) and second in the all-around (33.40). Sewanhaka’s Michaela Ehrlein placed third in the all-around (33).
Massapequa still has two meets left, the state qualifier Tuesday at Long Beach and the Nassau Championship next Thursday at Berner Middle School in Massapequa.
“In the past, we’ve always had a little bit of nerves competing against the other teams,” Murphy said. “We’ve been focusing on ourselves and trying not to get so wrapped up in the competition.”
Said LoPiano: “Focusing on ourselves is one thing, but coming together as a team is what is going to get us through it.”
Before the gym cleared, the gymnasts received one more gift. Nothing fixes a bittersweet occasion better than a large sheet cake.
“However the season ends, it ends,” Cowan said. “We’re still a team, and that’s what really matters.