Skye Harper didn't compete at the varsity level during the last two seasons, but after her return this year, the Bay Shore senior showed everyone what they were missing.
Harper won the vault (9.775) and placed third in the all-around (37.1) at the state gymnastics championships at Cold Spring Harbor High School on Saturday afternoon, as she helped lead Suffolk to a third-place finish with a score of 183.525.
Nassau finished in fourth place with a total of 179.15 points – a reverse of last season’s outcome, when Nassau finished third and Suffolk fourth. Section III (Central New York) won the team championship with 184.825 points.
After previously focusing on club-level gymnastics, Harper took a great deal of pride in her performance on the championships stage for Bay Shore/Islip.
“I’m pretty proud,” Harper said. “Coming back and doing this well, I feel pretty proud.”
Harper said the key to her victory on the vault was focusing on the mental aspect of her effort.
“Usually when I do vault I just overthink it,” Harper said. “So today after we were waiting around for such a long time, I just tried to keep everything simple and one thing at a time.”
Harper said what she’ll miss most about her time as a varsity gymnast is working with her mother, Bay Shore/Islip coach Robin Harper, as well as the team aspect of the sport.
“Overall I thought we did a good job and came together as a team,” said Robin Harper, who coached the Suffolk team on Saturday. “We had a rough start on beams but I felt like we did a good job of putting that behind us and moving forward and rallying ahead.”
Ward Melville junior Rianna Adams, in her first varsity season, finished sixth in the all-around (36.525), fourth in the uneven bars (9.40) and tied for seventh on the vault (9.325).
“Honestly it’s kind of surreal considering this is my first time doing varsity gymnastics to at all,” Adams said. “So to be able to place in the all-around is incredible.I was a little nervous coming into it because I didn’t know what to expect. But my team had my back the whole time, and it was just a really fun experience to go through with everyone.”
On the Nassau side, Roslyn sophomore Shani Sirota performed well as she finished fourth in the all-around (37.025), third on the vault (9.625) and fourth on the bars (9.40). Sirota placed fourth in the all-around last season as well.
“I just wanted to do my best and go out there and show them what I could do,” Sirota said. “I just plan to do even better or the same next year and the year after that.”
Nassau gymnastics coordinator Kim Rhatigan commended Sirota for her immense talent, drive and leadership ability as a sophomore.
“Shani is a rockstar,” Rhatigan said. “She’s a 10th grader and she’s so focused and such a fierce competitor…She’s a strong anchor for Section VIII. We wouldn’t be great without Shani.”
Another top performer for Nassau was Syosset sophomore Allie Jacobs, who finished seventh in the all-around (36.0) and fifth on the balance beam (9.375). She said enjoying the moment proved to be the biggest difference-maker for her.
“I just wanted to have fun and be the gymnast that I am,” Jacobs said.
After two consecutive finishes in the top four at the state championships, Rhatigan is thrilled with the direction of Nassau gymnastics.
“I like that Nassau gymnastics is consistent right now,” Rhatigan said. “We have strength, good attitudes, it’s really like a dream come true.”