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Nicole Jackson of Half Hollow Hills finds winning is fun

Nicole Jackson of Half Hollow Hills competes at

Nicole Jackson of Half Hollow Hills competes at the Suffolk girls gymnastics individual finals at Hauppauge on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Have fun. That’s all Nicole Jackson, from the combined Half Hollow Hills gymnastics team, wanted for her senior year. Have plenty of fun.

She accomplished more than just that. Jackson placed first in the all-around at the Suffolk girls gymnastics Individual championship, securing her spot on the state team with a score of 37.4.

“I feel really proud of myself right now,” Jackson said. “I came out here focused on doing the best that I can while having fun.”

Besides taking first in the all-around, she placed first on vault scoring a 9.6. She took second on uneven bars (9.35) and beam (9.225). She was fourth on floor with a 9.225.

Jackson, who attends Hills East, isn’t a stranger to success. Her sophomore year, she qualified for the state championship, where she placed first on vault and second on the uneven bars out of about 60 girls. She didn’t participate in varsity gymnastics her junior year because of injury and club obligations. This season she was expected to be a top performer and she didn’t disappoint.

“I wasn’t expecting anything coming into this meet,” Jackson said. “I knew I was one of the top girls, but anything can happen. I practiced every day, focused on sticking my routines and making my last season memorable.”

Kerin Spadaro from Bay Shore/Islip placed second in the all-around with a 36.925 and will also be competing on the Section XI state team. She placed first on bars (9.475), second on floor (9.35) and third on vault (9.4).

“I’m glad all my hard work paid off, all the work in the gym, the win feels good,” Spadaro, a Bay Shore freshman, said. “This season was better than my past years. I tried to be consistent with all the events and it paid off.”

Haylie Kelly, from Babylon, placed third in the all-around with a 35.375, including first on floor with a 9.4. The freshman, qualified for the state championship last year in floor.

“It’s really awesome to go to states as an all-arounder this time,” Kelly said. “I’m so happy that I came out here and did what I knew I could do.”

Jackson, Spadaro and Kelly, as the top three, will participate in all the events at the state championship, which is March 3 at Cold Spring Harbor.

Besides having a great time, Jackson’s goal for states is simply to make it to the top.

“I would like to place top three in the all-around at states. That’s my goal,” Jackson said.

When asked how she would accomplish that, she said without hesitation and with a little flair, “I’m going to work hard.”

Here’s a look at the rest of the state team:


Grace Glennon, West Babylon

Alexis Smith, Connetquot

Amanda Pisano, Connetquot

Alternate: Kaylyn Spotton, Sachem

Uneven Bars

Kaleigh Pensavalle, Lindenhurst

Brittney Viera, Smithtown

Gina Cutillo, Middle Country

Alternate: Sarah Moussa, Connetquot


Cassie Bergin, East Islip

Sarah Moussa, Connetquot

Brittney Viera, Smithtown

Alternate: Karli Toscano, Smithtown


Bella Kelly, Babylon

Sarah Moussa, Connetquot

Grace O’Sullivan, Ward Melville

Alternate: Rachel Goldstein, Half Hollow Hills

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