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Massapequa takes home Nassau team gymnastics championship

Massapequa's Heidi Baldinger competes on the uneven bars

Massapequa's Heidi Baldinger competes on the uneven bars in the  Nassau High School Gymnastics Team Championships on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. Credit: Steven Ryan

Everything happens for a reason.

If this is just a clichéd phrase to you, if you believe it’s a cop-out, something people tell themselves when unfortunate circumstance strikes, Massapequa senior gymnast Julianne Smith is here to remind you of the weight these words carry and the power of a positive outlook.

First, Smith will point to her elbow, which, just a year ago, was in a sling after an injury forced her to completely miss her junior season on the mat. Then she’ll point to the trophy Massapequa won with their score of 166.925 at the Nassau team championship at Plainview Old Bethpage Middle School yesterday.

“That mindset got me through it,” said Smith, who scored a 32.425 in the all-around. “It didn’t seem like it was happening for a reason at the time, but in hindsight, it did.”

Plainview JFK, led by all-around winner Miranda Lund (37.425), placed second with a 155.875. Grace Conway (33.925 in the all-around) and Gillian Chowske (32.600) helped Wantagh to a third-place finish. Sewanhaka District (149.575) and Bethpage (149.075) rounded out the top five.

Massapequa got stellar all-around performances from Gillian Murphy, who placed second in the meet with a 35.950, Jennifer Mullan (33.200), Heidi Baldinger (32.450), and Emily Corso (31.700). Elizabeth Murphy, Jenna Plant, Alyssa Ragno and Ally Wick played crucial roles in their specialized events.

“This is what it’s all about,” Murphy said. “It doesn’t get any better than winning with your favorite people in the world.”

The title marked the eighth in the Mike Capone era at Massapequa. The coach, now in his 40th season at the head of the program, has 325 conference wins, good for the second most victories in New York State.

Smith suffered her injury in January 2015 and was in physical therapy three to four times a week up until August. She immediately picked up an interest in the rehabilitation specialty, and as a direct byproduct, applied for and was accepted into the physical therapy program at Quinnipiac University next year.

“Seeing the profession every day for so long, I just got so invested in it,” Smith said. “All thanks to the injury.”

It happened for a reason.

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