Section 11 representative Hannah Hughes from Middle Country Central School...

Section 11 representative Hannah Hughes from Middle Country Central School wears medals she won, including first place in the all around competition at the NYSPHSAA State Gymnastics Championship at Kenmore West High School in Kenmore, NY, March 4, 2023. Photo by Sharon Cantillon Credit: Sharon Cantillon/Sharon Cantillon

There is little doubt about who has been the top gymnast in the state over the last two years.

But for reigning state vault champion Hannah Hughes, there was a moment of uncertainty the day before this year’s competition.

“I kept falling on the beam and was making mistakes that were really frustrating in practice,” Hughes said. “But my coaches and teammates told me that everything was OK because I was getting the falls out now, before it really mattered.”

Hughes, who competes for Middle Country and attends Newfield, had no falls throughout the season. She posted a score below 9 just once on the uneven bars.

“Bars is not my strongest event, so when I saw I was starting on bars and ending on vault, I couldn’t have been happier,” Hughes said of the rotation at the state meet. “I always want to end on my best event.”

Her finale was her record best. She posted a 9.725 on vault to become a two-time state champion in the event before she became the all-around champion with a 38.200. 

“You can always feel it, and I felt it in that moment,” Hughes said. “I knew it was a great vault and good enough to win the event.”

What she didn’t know was that her silver-medal finish on the uneven bars (9.425) and bronze-medal showings on the balance beam (9.525) and floor (9.475) were good enough for the all-around title, too.

“I couldn’t believe it," Hughes said. "It was a goal I’ve had since last season and it was an incredible feeling to know that my hard work paid off."

The sophomore spends seven days a week at Hotshots Gymnastics at Plainview, either working on her skills or helping younger gymnasts sharpen their own as an assistant teacher.  

Hughes won the all-around (38.225) and all four events at the individual Suffolk championship in November. As she prepares to enter her third season on the Middle Country team, Hughes is looking forward to hanging up more state medals. In fact, she wants to take home every last one.

“Now that I’m on top, I have to stay there,” Hughes said. “And I know I can do it. It’s just a few fixes here and there to perfect my form. I want to win every event.”

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