DERRY, N.H. — As Sophia Viger stepped onto the mat and looked down the long runway for the vault, her mind filled with fear.
Since fracturing her foot during practice at the start of the season, Viger had not attempted her full vault routine. Now, Pinkerton Academy’s captain would do so in front of a packed gym at the New Hampshire State Meet.
“I was so nervous for the vault!” said Viger. “Coming back from that injury was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. I focused on what my coaches told me, because that was the only way I would land it. And when I did, my face just lit up.”
Viger stuck her landing to place sixth in the vault, the first event of the day. That gave Pinkerton a major emotional lift, and the Astros then surged to their third straight New Hampshire Gymnastics State Championship Meet title on Saturday at Pinkerton’s Hackler Gym.
Despite not taking an event victory, Pinkerton used its depth to take the team title with 139.125 points, beating No. 2 Bedford (135.350).
“This is so exciting because it’s the first time we’ve had a three-peat as state champions,” said Astros head coach Chelsie Burland. “This is my ninth season as coach. We had won two title (2011-12) then lost won, then won two more (2014-15) then lost one. We felt like it was a little bit of a jinx. Our girls stepped up so big, and to three-peat is very cool.”
After the championship celebration, Burland gushed about the work done by Viger, who also took sixth in the all-around with a 34.2.
“Sophia is our captain and has been our leader all year despite battling an injury,” said the coach. “She hadn’t done her full vault until today. We knew it was a 50/50 shot if she would land it on her feet. She did it and it was great!”
Delivering a huge day for Pinkerton was Isabella Scarpetti. But the home schooled sophomore — in her first year of high school gymnastics — admitted she was a bit overwhelmed as she walked into the gym on Saturday.
“It was a lot different than anything I had ever experienced,” she said. “With all the teams and all the fans yelling, it made me pretty nervous. But it was also very exciting and, once I got going, it was so much fun.”
Scarpetti placed second in the all-around (36.375), bars (9.15), beam (9.0) and floor exercise (9.0) and was fifth in the vault (8.25).
“The floor exercise was my best event,” she said. “Once I got to the floor, I was so confident. It was the last event and the meet was almost over. I felt so good and had so much fun out there. And I felt like I did very well.”
Burland said she was wowed by how Scarpetti responded to the new challenge.
“Isabella was a rock for us!” said the coach. “This was a very different atmosphere than she had ever experienced. But she kept it together with all the screaming and yelling around her and it was great. She had an amazing meet.”
Zoe Demers also delivered key points for Pinkerton, placing third in the beam (8.7) and sixth in the floor exercise (9.2). Ashley McKinnon chipped in with a fourth in the vault (8.85).
“This win was all about depth,” said Burland. “We lost senior (reigning Eagle-Tribune All-Star) Audrey Hill to a torn ACL early in the season, and she was one of our top scorers last year (two seconds at states). So we had to go deep into our roster to fill spots. But everyone came through to deliver the title.”
Following the final award ceremony, the Astros celebrated their state championship on front of a wall already adorned with Pinkerton state title plaques.
“This is the best feeling in the world,” said Viger. “I’m so proud of this entire team. Every single person did their part to earn that state championship trophy. Winning three in a row is crazy, but winning a fourth next year would be awesome.”
LANCERS TAKE THIRD
It was still a good day for Londonderry, who finished third with 129.725 points.
Seana Kelly and Ashley Griffin were the top two scorers for the Lancers.
Griffen took a sixth in the beam with a 8.550, and finished ninth in the all-around with 33.175 points. Kelly took a seventh in the bars on her way to an eighth-place finish in the all-around (33.725).
NH Gymnastics Championship
Top team scores plus locals (17 teams scored): 1. Pinkerton 139.125, 2. Bedford 135.350, 3. Londonderry 129.725, 4. Pelham 125.650, 5. Bishop Guertin 125.375
Area top-8 placers:
Vault: 4. Ashley McKinnon (Pink) 8.85, 5. Isabella Scarpetti (Pink) 8.25, 6. Sophia Viger (Pink) 8.8; Bars: 2. Scarpetti (Pink) 9.15, 7. Seana Kelly (Lond) 8.425, 8. Viger (Pink) 8.125; Beam: 2. Scarpetti (Pink) 9.0, 3. Zoe Demers (Pink) 8.7, 6. Ashley Griffin (Lond) 8.550; Floor: 2. Scarpetti (Pink) 9.4, 6. Demers (Pink) 9.2, 7. McKinnon (Pink) 9.175, 8. Viger (Pink) 9.050; All-around: 2. Scarpetti (Pink) 36.375, 6. Viger (Pink) 34.2, 8. Kelly (Lond) 33.725