HILLSBOROUGH — Just one year after winning two events and taking home the All-Around title, South Plainfield High School gymnast Nicole Sottiriou upped her performance and won three of the four events and her second straight individual title at the Raider Invitational on Saturday afternoon.
Sottiriou won the vault, balance beam and floor competitions and scored 37.550 points in total, improving in all areas from last year’s event.
“I knew that there was a lot of pressure, because everyone expected me to defend the title and people were asking me all day if I was going to be able to do it again,” Sottiriou said. “I was just trying to keep that in the back of my mind and make it like a practice and take every event step-by-step and just give it my all and have fun.”
She won the vault with a score of 9.450, which was up from the 9.375 she won with last season, took the beam and floor exercise with a 9.6 in both events.
“I really love floor, it’s my favorite event, so I’m glad that I won it. I was extremely nervous for beam, but I got a good score and I was thrilled,” Sottiriou said.
South Plainfield, with Sottiriou leading the way, finished third in the team competition, less than one point behind Hillsborough for second place out of the six schools in attendance.
“This was probably the best vibe and energy we’ve had coming into a meet this season,” South Plainfield head coach Meredith Garafalo said. “Each girl has a little goal to meet a team goal.”
Hillsborough, the host of the event, scored 106.075 to finish second behind Freehold, behind a balanced attack from their roster. Sarah Pallay placed third in the all-around competition, scoring 36.700 to lead the Raiders. Pallay came in second on the vault (9.3), third on the floor (9.375) and the uneven bars (8.925) and fifth on the beam (9.1).
“I was very happy with how the girls did today,” Hillsborough coach Beth Murrin said. “The girls went out and did what we’ve been practicing and I thought they brought energy and enthusiasm.”
Alexis LoCasto was Hillsborough’s other standout, placing second on the beam (9.275).
Bridgewater-Raritan’s Emily Shugan denied Sottiriou an unbeaten day, winning the bars with a score of 9.525.
TEAM SCORES: 1. Freehold 106.425; 2. Hillsborough 106.075; 3. South Plainfield 105.075; 4. Bridgewater-Raritan 102.175; 5. South Brunswick 95.075; 6. Old Bridge 94.975.
ALL-AROUND: 1. Nicole Sottiriou (South Plainfield) 37.550; 2. Jenna Crisalli (Freehold) 37.275; 3. Sarah Pallay (Hillsborough) 36.700; 4. Shani Weiss (Freehold) 35.225; 5. Gianna Marcovecchio (South Plainfield) 33.725.
VAULT: 1. Nicole Sottiriou (South Plainfield) 9.450; 2. Sarah Pallay (Hillsborough) 9.300; 3. Jenna Crisalli (Freehold) 9.200; 4. Alyssa Fodera (Hillsborough) 8.625; 5. Shani Weiss (Freehold) 8.550; 6. Jillian Pepe (Old Bridge) 8.375.
UNEVEN BARS: 1. Emily Shugan (Bridgewater-Raritan) 9.525; 2. Jenna Crisalli (Freehold) 9.400; 3. Sarah Pallay (Hillsborough) 8.925; 4. Nicole Sottiriou (South Plainfield) 8.900; 5. Shani Weiss (Freehold) 8.725; 6. Carly Kensey (South Plainfield) 8.500.
BALANCE BEAM: 1. Nicole Sottiriou (South Plainfield) 9.600; 2. Alexis LoCasto (Hillsborough) 9.275; 3. Jenna Crisalli (Freehold) 9.250; 4. Shani Weiss (Freehold) 9.175; 5. Sarah Pallay (Hillsborough) 9.100; 5T. Grace Tutunjian (Hillsborough) 9.100.
FLOOR EXERCISE: 1. Nicole Sottiriou (South Plainfield) 9.600; 2. Jenna Crisalli (Freehold) 9.425; 3. Sarah Pallay (Hillsborough) 9.375; 4. Kayla Massaro (South Plainfield) 9.100; 5. Faye Lawrence (Bridgewater-Raritan) 9.025; 6. Arah Godbole (Freehold) 9.000.