Gymnastics

Ludlowe, Led By Mancini’s All-Around Title, Wins First FCIAC Championship

Fairfield Ludlowe’s Ava Mancini competes on the beam. Mancini won the all-around title. (Gregory Vasil)

STAMFORD — Fairfield Ludlowe came in ranked fourth for today’s FCIAC Gymnastics championships. While Wilton and St. Joseph, in the top two spots, got most of the early attention, the Falcons were not on many radars.

“We knew it was going to be close,” Falcons coach Kim Longobucco said. “We didn’t talk about it much going into the meet. It gets in their heads a little bit. They knew they were seeded fourth but they didn’t know the scores of who was in front of us and how close it was. They just needed to do their own personal thing. It’s like a puzzle. It builds the right way on its own.”

Ludlowe put all the pieces together. Led by all-around champion Ava Mancini, the Falcons won their first league title with a score of 134.55, beating out both the Cadets (133.95), who finished second, and the Warriors (131.15), who took third place.

Kenna Stevenson of Trumbull competes on the vault. (Gregory Vasil)

“It’s exciting,” Longobucco said. “We came in calm. There have been other years where we probably should have won and didn’t win. We put a lot of pressure on winning and this year we sort of said we’re going to do what we need to do, we’re going to train the way we need to train and we’re going to sort of take a deep breath at the meet and take it easy and it worked out for us.”

Ludlowe ended a four-year run by Greenwich, which failed to qualify for the championships. A consolidated Fairfield team won titles in 2003-04.

“We weren’t really expecting to do this well but we had high expectations,” Mancini said. “We hoped we could meet them.”

Wilton’s Lilly Byrnes shows great form on the balance beam. (Gregory Vasil)

Mancini, who finished second last year, was able to overcome a fall on the beam to finish with a score of 35.25. The Cadets’ Schuyler Tomey, who won both the vault and floor exercise, was second with a 35.0. Fairfield Warde’s Caroline Garrett came in third with a 34.75.

Mancini was sidelined at the start of the season with a stress fracture in her back.

“Today I was pretty confident,” Mancini said. “Usually I’m a little nervous. Today I just came in pretty calm, tried to stay confident and see what I could do.”

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St. Joseph’s Schulyler Tomey springs off the vault. (Gregory Vasil)

Mancini won the balance beam and Ludlowe’s Tara Chomienne finished first on the bars.

This is the first year St. Joseph had enough gymnasts to form a team. Before this season several members competed with Trumbull.

The Cadets were unbeaten during the regular season and there were looks of disappointment after the final results were announced.

“We came in here with a really positive attitude,” said Celina Huber, who coaches both St. Joseph and Trumbull. “We had a rough time on beam today. That was what really hurt us. But they came back and did excellent on floor. I’m so proud of the girls. They did an excellent job. We came in ranked second, we finished ranked second. I’m very happy with what they did.”

Caitlin Vozzella of St. Joseph competes on the uneven bars. (Gregory Vasil)

Wilton, which has won the most league titles, was led by Olivia Mannino, who was fourth in the all-around. Lilly Byrnes (floor) and Kate Ginsburg (beam) each had second-place finishes.

In the end, the day belonged to the Falcons and Mancini, who trains with Longobucco.

“For me it is very special for her to win because I basically spend every day with Ava all year,” Longobucco said. “She had an excellent day. Even with a fall on beam she ends up winning the all-around so that’s some pretty good talent if you can fall and still take the championship home.”

Lilly Byrnes of Wilton acknowledges the judges after her vault. (Gregory Vasil)