ELLSWORTH — For years, mid-May’s regional championships have been the culmination of an entire season’s work for Springers Gymnastics. This weekend, the team accomplished a feat it have never achieved before.
Springers produced three all-around champions for the first time in program history at the YMCA’s Northeast championships at Kents Hill School in Readfield. The program represented the Down East Family YMCA in the three-day tournament, which began Friday morning and concluded Sunday night.
“This has definitely been one of our better years,” team coach Doug Springer said. “We took 38 girls and finished strong as a team, which is our goal every year. … This is our big meet.”
DEFY’s first all-around championship went to Level 8 contestant and Ellsworth High School junior Maddie Nida, who placed first in the 16-plus division. Nida scored 9.15 on vault 8.5 on bars, 8.625 on beam and 9.45 on floor Friday for an all-around score of 35.725.
After winning state and regional titles in 2017, Nida was forced to miss last year’s championship events as she nursed an ankle injury. Being able to claim the regional crown she was unable to defend a year ago made this win all the sweeter.
“It felt great to be back out there and at full strength,” Nida said. “My goal was to just get up on the podium once, so to take first place was pretty awesome.”
The week couldn’t have been much busier for Nida, who also competes on the Ellsworth varsity track team. Her championship win Friday was sandwiched in between the Eagles’ second home track meet of the season Thursday, in which she ran the 100-meter dash, 300-meter hurdles and second leg of the 4-by-100 relay, and the school’s prom Saturday evening.
“It can definitely be a lot to handle just balancing track and gymnastics alone, but all my coaches are really understanding about it,” Nida said. “I just do my best and try to give it my all in everything I do.”
Nida wasn’t the only Level 8 contestant to win an all-around title for DEFY as Riley Crowley won the age 13 crown in the classification. Crowley scored 9.025 on vault, 9.775 on bars, 9.55 on beam and 9.0 on floor Friday to total 37.35 points.
Six years ago, Crowley won the all-around championship in the 6-7 age group as a Level 4 gymnast. On Saturday, history repeated itself as another 6-7 gymnast, Mollie Birdsall of Penobscot, finished with 36.1 points in the Level 3 competition to become the team’s third all-around titlist of the weekend.
DEFY also delivered a strong team performance overall with the Level 6 squad taking home a best-ever finish of third place in the 36-team field. Top Level 6 performers included Aerie Yin (35.675 points in the 14-15 age group), Aliyah Washburn (34.95 points in the 12-13 age group) and Eliza Levin (34.9 points in the 10-12 age group).
Overall, Crowley’s score of 37.35 was DEFY’s team-best mark. Emma Astle (37.1 points in the 11B age group), Stephanie Gualtieri (36.4 points in the 10A age group), Jocelyn Wilson (36.125 points in the 10B age group) and Birdsall (36.1) rounded out the team’s top five with Nida’s 35.725 coming in sixth.
“Our girls did well at every level,” Springer said. “This is an enormous meet with hundreds of gymnasts in each session, and you have to prepare very well. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”