The Felines, the girls’ gymnastics team, improved from their sixth place finish last year by placing fifth in this year’s team championships, held on Monday, February 11 at Aviator Sports and Recreation Center in Brooklyn.
With a score of 104.9, the Felines were very content with the results, considering that two of their athletes, sophomores Molly Balsam and Emma Rosenbluth, were sick and freshman Chloe Hirschowitz injured her ankle during her floor exercise routine. “I think we did extremely well considering we had two illnesses and an injury,” senior and co-captain Allison Weiner said. “No one dropped the ball today. No one got nervous.”
The team was concerned, however, after Hirschowitz injured her ankle and rushed to her side after she stepped off the floor area. “I did my leap and I twisted my ankle and it really hurt,” Hirschowitz said. “I missed my last tumbling pass because I was like dying in pain.” The injury forced Hirschowitz to skip her performance on the vault. However, she was able to perform her uneven bars routine and landed from the bars on one foot.
Despite the injury, Hirschowitz had the highest score from Stuyvesant on each of the four components. She scored 8.10 out of 10 on her floor routine after beginning the night with a score of 7.65 from her balance beam performance. The judges gave a score of 6.10 to her performance on the uneven bars.
While placing fifth in the girls’ gymnastics team championships was a great accomplishment for the Felines, it was not quite enough for first-year coach Vasken Choubaralian. “Expectations were met, but my goal was not met,” said Choubaralian, who wanted the team to place fourth in the standings. The Felines were only 1.9 points behind a fourth place finish, which was given instead to the Bronx High School of Science, who scored 106.8.
Nonetheless, the Choubaralian was very happy with what they had accomplished. “Their performances today was one of the best all season so what a great way to finish,” Choubaralian said. “It only gives me a little more confidence that next year, we can definitely make fourth place or better.”
One of the athletes who will not be competing for the Felines next year is senior Tanya Zubinka, whose floor exercise routine in the meet was “a superb routine, her best ever,” Choubaralian said.
According to Zubinka, the score of 7.40 tied for her highest score this season and the routine was a great way to end her high school gymnastics career. “I was really happy that I went out with such a good routine. I couldn’t have asked for a better routine.”
With only three seniors on the team, the Felines will retain most of their talent next year. Hirschowitz, who will return next year, looks forward to defeating Tottenville High School, the first place winners with a score of 128.175. “I’m showing a lot more self confidence now,” Hirschowitz said. “The team has grown so much.”
Choubaralian replaced former Felines’ coach Anetta Luczak, who is on maternity leave, at the beginning of the season. Though he has had little experience with the sport of gymnastics, Choubaralian helped the team on their conditioning and relied on the girls’ experience in the sport. “They guided me a lot through the gymnastics part of it. I provided the motivation for them,” Choubaralian said.
The extra conditioning made the team stronger physically, Weiner said. “If you looked at every single girl, you’d see a huge improvement from last year to this year.”
Choubaralian said that if Luczak decides not to coach the Felines when she comes back from materninty leave next September, he will gladly coach the team again.
Though Stuyvesant placed better than last year, the girls feel they haven’t yet reached their full potential. “We’re just on an upward hill. The standard has been set for next year,” Weiner said.