Middle Country’s Hannah Hughes hits the vault during the Suffolk...

Middle Country’s Hannah Hughes hits the vault during the Suffolk High School girls gymnastics individual finals/state qualifiers on Friday Nov 3, 2023 West Islip High School Credit: Bob Sorensen

Has anyone had a better week than Hannah Hughes?

Just four days after setting a personal best on floor exercise and leading Middle Country to its first team county championship in 20 years, the 2023 Newsday Gymnast of the Year rose to the challenge again Friday.

Hughes claimed her second consecutive Suffolk all-around individual title with a score of 38.200 at West Islip High School Friday. She looks to win her second straight all-around state championship and third straight vault state title on March 2, 2024 at Clarence High School.

“Today, I didn’t even believe it was counties,” Hughes said. “I was like, ‘No way it’s counties today.’ So I was trying to hype myself up, listen to music. I was like, ‘OK, OK.’ I think high scores going on to every event, so I get them.”

Hughes finished first on vault (9.700) and floor (9.700). She finished second on bars (9.475) and beam (9.325).

“Hannah works very hard to perfect herself,” Middle Country coach Melissa Valentino said. “That’s her goal … Before she’s even ready to be proud [of her performance] , she goes, ‘Oh, I know I did this wrong and next time I have to fix this.’”

Hughes, who said Monday that she values team success more than the individual accolades, was still able to find pride in her achievement. 

“It feels great,” Hughes said. “I want to continue to do it.”

Valentino said that Hughes’ consistent greatness pushes the other girls on Middle Country’s team to want to reach that level. Madisyn Rodriguez, who finished sixth all-around, Miranda Waters, Gabriella Schiano and Christina Granata all represented Middle Country in Friday’s individual meet.

“You have something to strive for and you know it's possible,” Valentino said. “And Hannah's showing the team that it is possible to get these scores and do it and she's just like them and we're all the same age. I think it gives them [confidence] knowing that they can do it too.”

West Babylon’s Lindsey Kutchens finished second all-around (37.100) and Smithtown’s Bayla Goldberg finished third all-around (36.900). Kutchens finished first on beam (9.350) and Goldberg finished first on bars (9.525). Both girls will participate as all-around gymnasts at the state meet.

With strong finishes in varying events Friday, Rodriguez, Connetquot’s Angelina Guzman, Half Hollow Hills’ Adison Eisenberg, East Islip’s Sophia Pepe, Bay Shore/Islip’s Isabella Field and Connetquot’s Avery Melchiona will each represent the Suffolk Section XI team in March’s state meet.

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