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NYSPHSAA Gymnastics Tourney

Kenmore, NY – Just having states back was a sense of victory that could not be measured on any score card.

That was the feeling as all-section teams from all 11 regions of the state gathered at Kenmore West High School this past Saturday for the 2022 NYSPHSAA gymnastics tournament.

The tourney has been postponed the last two seasons due to Covid-19.

“To be back at a state tournament, I know It’s been a while,” said Joe Buscaglia, coach of the Section VI squad.

“It’s been a rough two years for athletes and coaches. So to get back to this point and have some sort of normalization where these girls and boys can compete at this level it’s amazing. To give them this opportunity to be back everybody is very grateful to be here at this point.”

Frontier sophomore Leah Philarom, who won at states two years ago, said she was so very thankful to be back.

“It’s just so great because I’m finally with my teammates again because last year it was canceled,” Philarom said. “And it’s so great to be back on the floor like this because I had an injury recently. So to be back with the state team and being on the team is just amazing.”

Her Frontier teammate, Kayla Gleason, also represented Section VI, is a veteran of two state tournaments and a former state champ.

“I’m super happy to be here,” Gleason said. “I was so excited when I was able to compete in sectionals and qualify for here. I’m so excited to work as hard as I possibly can with this team and possibly get another state championship out of it.

There was no need for Buscaglia to rally the troops with an inspirational pre-match speech. Motivation came from within for everyone. “I think the right word is the athletes are ecstatic,” said Buscaglia. “As my Section VI girls were coming in I said girls are you ready? They said we are pumped! So lots of enthusiasm.  They’ve been waiting for two years. For this moment.”

For these student-athletes, like everyone, the last two years have been full of stress, sadness and uncertainty. To be back in the state tourney setting, mask free, was a thrill that almost defied description.

As thankful as everyone was to have states back there was also a sense that it wasn’t enough just to be back.

They weren’t there just to hug old friends and say hello. They wanted to win.

“Everyone has so much energy and we’re ready to kill it out there on the floor,” said Philarom.

Buscaglia said the Section VI came in ready to show the rest of the state what girls from the 716 were made of.

“We always tell the girls make the most of your opportunities,” he said. “So yes we’ve been working to get to this point. Now that we’re here we have goals. It’s not just about being here. It’s about placing as high as you can.”

The perfect way to show thankfulness that states was back was to go out there and give it your all.

“This team has been working so hard and I’m just excited to be here and compete with this team,” said Gleason.

A long with the introduction of all 11 teams, the opening ceremony also included some words from guest speaker Ken-Ton superintendent of schools, Sabatino Cimato.

Cimato encouraged the athletes to not only compete hard but to give themselves a chance to live in the moment and enjoy the spotlight of states. Cimato told the student-athletes that years from now they won’t remember that math test. Events like this are what they will take for the long haul.

“You absolutely will remember this so take it all in,” said Cimato.

Section III took first place overall in the team scoring with 185.5 points. Just edging out Section 11 (181.250) and Section VI (179.225).

Kayla Gleason placed third in the floor with a score of 9.5. She was also second in the beam with a score of 9.625, just a shade behind Section III’s Grayson Gall who had 9.650.

Leah Philarom placed second in the vault with 9.625 and was fourth in the floor.

Torin Stutzman (Williamsville East) was fifth in the beam and Olivia Chapman (Clarence) was fourth in the bars.

Kenmore West will host the NYSPHSAA gymnastics tournament for the next three seasons as well.

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