West Babylon’s Lindsey Kutchens had a 9.175 on vault, and...

West Babylon’s Lindsey Kutchens had a 9.175 on vault, and a 36.625 in the all-around, the best score by a participant from LI and eighth at state meet on Saturday, March 2, 2024. Credit: Bridget Fetsko

BUFFALO.— You wouldn’t think that the highest scoring gymnast from Long Island at the 2024 state gymnastics championships had never been there before. Fortunately, West Babylon formed a gymnastics team this past fall for the first time, and that resulted in a memorable weekend for junior Lindsey Kutchens.

Kutchens had the highest all-around score of any participating Long Islander at the 50th state gymnastics event on Saturday with a 36.625, eighth among all 90 participating gymnasts.

“It was a really great experience for my first year,” Kutchens said. “We have such a great connection to each other.”

Suffolk (Section XI) finished third in team scoring with a total of 182, behind Section III’s 184.925 and Section VI’s 188.95, the latter of which ended up being a state record. Nassau (Section VIII) finished fifth with a score of 176.45.

“I had no idea (we won third),” Kutchens said. “But I’m just really proud of the team.”

Kutchens finished narrowly ahead of ninth-place teammate Bayla Goldberg of Smithtown East (36.6) as both helped Suffolk bring home medals for its top-three finish. Isabella Field placed 15th with a solid 34.9 all-around score. Kutchens had a 9.4 on floor exercise (tied for sixth) and 9.175 on vault (13th),

Goldberg also finished fourth in uneven bars with a stellar 9.7 score and said she entered Suffolk’s final event — floor exercise — with the mindset of “whatever happens, happens.”

“I just wanted to give it my all,” Goldberg said. “All there is to do is try my best, and that’s what I did.”

Adison Eisenberg of Half Hollow Hills East added a stellar 27.125 across the three events, not participating in the floor. Eisenberg placed fourth in vault among all gymnasts with a 9.475.

Since Suffolk's gymnastics season is in the fall, the Sectional team held eight practices in February to prepare for the tournament and build team bonding.

“The night before we all got to hang out in the (hotel) rooms,” Eisenberg said. “We really became close just last night, and it kept the spirits up today.”

Seventh-grader Angelina Guzman of Connetquot had one of the most impressive feats of the day, claiming second on the podium for floor after scoring a remarkable 9.5, not to mention adding a 9.2 in uneven bars and 8.625 in vault. Avery Melchiona also represented Connetquot on the podium, placing fourth with a 9.45 in the floor exercise.

“It was so much fun, I was really happy and proud,” Guzman said. “Everyone else was so supportive.”

Middle Country’s Hannah Hughes, who finished first in all-around scoring in 2023, suffered an injury prior to Saturday, according to coach Melissa Valentino. She did not participate.

The injury bug also bit Nassau as Massapequa’s Lyla Jay Murphy — who was set to participate in every event except uneven bars — suffered a torn ACL while practicing this week, according to Nassau coordinator Kim Rhatigan.

That didn’t prevent Nassau from a solid fifth-place performance, albeit not the finish the gymnasts wanted. Syosset’s Leah Chin led Nassau with a 35.675 all-around score — 13th among all gymnasts — while tying for fifth place in the balance beam with a 9.4.

“All of us were the top of Nassau County, we all did our best,” Chin said. “It didn’t go as we planned, but it’s whatever. We did our best, and that’s what happened.”

Syosset’s Camryn Platt and Plainview’s Marissa Schlossman added all-around scores of 33.95 and 33.9, respectively. Isabella Conlon scored a strong 9.2 on vault and Vanessa Frullo helped Nassau start fast with a 9.15 on uneven bars before scoring an 8.825 on the balance beam, her only two events.

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