The Todd Heimer Nassau County Coaches gymnastics Invitational isn’t about competing for a county championship or the chance to qualify for the state tournament. But that doesn’t mean the gymnasts don’t view it as one of the marquee competitions of every year.
For Kaylie McCabe, a junior from Long Beach, the invitational provides the opportunity to showcase her skills and improvement from the start of the season to the end of it. And she was sure to make the most of the moment.
“I was just trying to be positive and confident,” McCabe said. “This is one of my favorite meets every year to come to, so I was really looking forward to this.”
Her best resulted a win in the Conference I All-Around with a score of 31.55 at the 28th annual installment of the event Saturday at New Hyde Park High School. She had top-five finishes in three of the four exercises, including placing second on floor (8.7).
“It’s just really nice to be able to show people what I can do,” McCabe said. “I’ve been working so hard all year to improve my skills and it’s just really nice that I finally got to win first.”
Ella Findling, a Hewlett freshman, won the Conference II All-Around with a score of 30.65. She won the girls division floor exercise (8.35) while placing second on the beam (7.55) and bars (6.95).
“I’m really happy that I got this opportunity to even just be here and compete,” Findling said. “This is really special and just the meaning behind it makes it even more special. Just walking through and seeing all the girls makes it really special and I’m just lucky to be able to compete here.”
The invitational brings together the top gymnastics that didn’t qualify for the state qualifiers. Nassau gymnastics coordinator Kim Rhatigan called these gymnasts the “backbone of high school gymnastics.”
Conference I winners included Massapequa’s Gianna Clouthier (bars, 7.4; vault, 8.2) and Sewanhaka’s Julia Schneider (floor, 8.85). Conference II winners featured Garden City’s Laila Smith (vault 8.05; bars, 7.3) and Carle Place’s Clodagh O’Driscoll (beam, 7.575). North Shore’s Marco Giannola won on floor in the boys division with a 9.3.
For Hicksville's Nikki Lam, Saturday was an opportunity to end her high school gymnastics career on a high note. The senior accomplished that by winning on the Conference I beam with an 8.3.
“I was really surprised to even place,” Lam said. “I would have been happy with anything I did. This whole meet is just so enjoyable and I’m glad I ended it with such a good routine. I just loved every moment of it.”