Hannah Hughes of Middle Country competes in the balance beam...

Hannah Hughes of Middle Country competes in the balance beam event at a Suffolk League I dual meet between Middle Country and Half Hollow Hills in Dix Hills on Friday, October 20, 2023. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Through nine overall meets and five league matchups, both the Middle Country and Half Hollow Hills gymnastics teams were unblemished.

The winner of Friday’s dual meet between the teams, the final one of the regular season, would be crowned Suffolk League I champion.

Middle Country junior Hannah Hughes was ready for the moment.

The reigning All-Around and vault state champion put on a show, posting personal bests on floor (9.7) and beam (9.7) to lead undefeated Middle Country to a 173.85-169.925 road win over Half Hollow Hills.

Middle Country improved to 10-0 overall and 6-0 in Suffolk I. Half Hollow Hills fell to 9-1 and 5-1 in the league.

“It feels amazing,” Hughes said. “I’ve always wanted to have the same score I’ve gotten on vault and bring it to each event, and I just upgraded it.”

Middle Country’s meet score (173.85) was a new a season high. It totaled 173.225 in a win against Smithtown on Oct. 6.

“This is the biggest team I’ve ever had,” Valentino said. “We are 22 deep and the depth of talent this year has been insane. These girls have pushed through a lot of challenges and the hard work, 10-0, has really showed off.”

Hughes, who was named the 2023 Newsday Gymnast of the Year after her special sophomore season, finished with an All-Around score of 38.025.

Fellow junior Madisyn Rodriguez recorded an All-Around score of 35.275, which included a 9.475 showing on floor.

Rodriguez said that her and Hughes are together basically every second. The juniors are also classmates at Newfield High School and club teammates at Hotshots Gymnastics in Plainview.

“I think that as a team it’s more meaningful because it just shows how everyone works together,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not just one person.”

Adison Eisenberg of Half Hollow Hills, who competes with Rodriguez and Hughes at Hotshots, had a 36.05 All-Around score, including a meet-high 9.4 to win vault. She also had a team-high score on bars (8.85) and floor (9.4).

Despite being handed its first loss, Hills posted its third-best total score of the season.

Middle Country will turn its attention to the county team championship on Oct. 30 at Walt Whitman High School. Hughes posted the top all-around score in last year's event, but Middle Country finished in fourth.

As the only undefeated team remaining in Suffolk, Middle Country will have everybody’s attention on the penultimate day of October as it searches for its first county title since 2003.

“They know what to do,” Valentino said. “They got it.”

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