Skye Harper and Hayden Davidson haven’t been far apart in a long time — going back to when they were toddlers.
On Tuesday, the pair that started training together at four years old under Harper’s mother, Robin Thomas Harper, were still as close as could be. They stood in a huddle with their Bay Shore/Islip teammates and clutched the Section XI girls gymnastics team championship plaque at West Islip High School. The results sheet showed the same closeness: a first-place all-around finish for Harper with 38.275 and second place for Davidson with 37.625.
“I knew it was going to be between me and Hayden, but I didn’t really know how it was going to go,” Harper said.
It went the way of Bay Shore/Islip, which swept the first four spots with a third-place finish by Mattea Gravina at 36.725 and fourth place by Kerin Spadaro at 35.400 to take first as a team with 177.775. Smithtown grabbed second with 164.70 and Babylon came in third at 160.925.
“I was really focusing on my team and trying to get them to win today because we really worked hard to get this first place,” Davidson said.
The pair capped off their performance with Davidson’s 9.5 and Harper’s 9.8 on the floor exercise. It had been a number Harper had been trying to reach because her sister, Brittany Cassar, had set the same score for the individual record when she competed at Kings Park, she said. While this result wouldn’t count for that individual record, a team county championship was a good place to pull it off.
“It feels good because I haven’t been able to break it for this year and last year, but I did today,” said Harper, who hit 9.6 frequently during the regular season. “I didn’t expect it.”
As a lifelong coach to both, Thomas Harper has seen the two friends become as close as sisters and grow in the gym. For Harper, she saw a younger, less experienced competitor become a composed leader. For Davidson, consistency shown through.
“She just really wanted it, I saw the fire in her,” Thomas Harper said.
Brittney Viera led Smithtown with a 34.400 and Babylon’s Haylie Kelly was fifth overall with a 34.950 to lead the third-place team.
Harper had a 9.8 on vault, a 9.275 on uneven bars and a 9.4 on balance beam. Davidson had a 9.6 on vault, a 9.375 on bars and a 9.15 on balance beam. They’ll both compete in the individual county championships Friday, but Tuesday was about putting their team, that took second with a 176.100 last season, first.
“It’s really overwhelming how we won today,” Davidson said. “Coming back with a higher score than last year too, it’s amazing.”