Montgomery wins first Somerset championship by slimmest of margins

Emily Shugan of Bridgewater High School competes on the uneven bars in the Somerset County Championships on Wednesday. Shugan and Hillsborough's Sarah Pallay tied for the All-Around title. Photo by: Ed Pagliarini

Emily Shugan of Bridgewater High School competes on the uneven bars in the Somerset County Championships on Wednesday. Shugan and Hillsborough’s Sarah Pallay tied for the All-Around title. Photo by: Ed Pagliarini

MONTGOMERY — In a night full of upsets, the Montgomery High School gymnastics team secured their first Somerset County Tournament Championship, edging defending champion Bridgewater-Raritan by the slimmest of margins, 107.400-107.300 in their home gym Wednesday evening.

The Cougars came into the meet knowing that they had a shot to win, according to head coach Johanna Snedeker, but to win like that was something not even the coach was expecting.

“When the announcer was calling out the scores, I didn’t even realize we were going to win and I was just like ‘wow,’ ” Snedeker said. “Sometimes it just comes down to that and I wasn’t even tracking the scores and the kids were just out here doing their best and having fun.”

Leading the way for Montgomery was Renee Mallick, who won the vault with a score of 9.500. Snedeker said that once Mallick vaulted for the first time tonight, she was confident that a good score would be posted.

“Her vault was beautiful,” Snedeker said. “The first one was great and the second one was nice and tight and she opened up great and stuck it.”

Audrey Warner finished third on the balance beam with a score of 9.125 and Zoe Zyvith placed second on the floor exercise with a score of 9.200 to help Montgomery build up the team total. They had four of the top six finishers in the All-Around competition, led by Mallick’s score of 36.075.

“We were a little edgy tonight; we weren’t as close to the zone as we could have been, there are things that they were just a little over anxious for,” Snedeker said.

But the top two in the All-Around finished in a tie, as Emily Shugan of Bridgewater-Raritan and Sarah Pallay of Hillsborough posted matching scores of 37.225 to walk away as co-champions.

Shugan won both the uneven bars (9.500) and balance beam (9.550) and Pallay won the floor exercise with a score of 9.550.

“I was really happy with my performance tonight, I just came in hoping to do my best, partly because the team is a little down with all the injuries we have right now. So I’m happy with how I did,” Pallay, the 2012 champion in the All-Around, said. “It feels really good to defend the title and honestly I was just looking to do the best I could do and if I defended it, great.”

Shugan came into the night only expecting to compete in the uneven bars due to a foot injury that hadn’t allowed her to take part in an All-Around competition all season, but after she went on the vault and beam, she figured she could just finish it out on the floor.

“Beam was a complete surprise, to even compete on that, so that was just an exciting time for me,” Shugan said. “I won bars last year so I wanted to defend that, but to be a co-champion, it’s surprising. I didn’t even intend to compete All-Around today, so it’s awesome to win this. I’ve never seen a tie like this, and even though I knew it’d be close, but I didn’t think I’d win.”

TEAM SCORES: 1. Montgomery 107.400; 2. Bridgewater-Raritan 107.300; 3. Hillsborough 106.850; 4. Somerville 103.550; 5. Watchung Hills 97.775; 6. Ridge 97.025.

ALL-AROUND: 1. Emily Shugan (Bridgewater-Raritan) 37.225; 1. Sarah Pallay (Hillsborough) 37.225; 3. Renee Mallick (Montgomery) 36.075; 4. Audrey Warner 35.800; 5. Zoe Zyvith (Montgomery) 35.225; 6. Jordan Ricca (Montgomery) 35.200.

VAULT: 1. Renee Mallick (Montgomery) 9.500; 2. Emily Shugan (Bridgewater-Raritan) 9.375; 3. Anne Meringolo (Watchung Hills) 9.225; 4. Sarah Pallay (Hillsborough) 9.200; 5. Lauren Cunningham (Watchung Hills) 9.100; 6. Brionna Hawkens (Somerville) 9.050.

UNEVEN BARS: 1. Emily Shugan (Bridgewater-Raritan) 9.500; 2. Natalie Onderko (Hillsborough) 9.225; 3. Sarah Pallay (Hillsborough) 9.000; 4. Renee Mallick (Montgomery) 8.800; 5. Kira Solt (Hillsborough) 8.775; 6. Anne Meringolo (Watchung Hills) 8.725.

BALANCE BEAM: 1. Emily Shugan (Bridgewater-Raritan) 9.550; 2. Sarah Pallay (Hillsborough) 9.475; 3. Audrey Warner (Montgomery) 9.125; 4. Brionna Hawkens (Somerville) 9.000; 5. Aylssa Fodera (Hillsborough) 8.900; 6. Grace Tutunjian (Hillsborough) 8.825.

FLOOR EXERCISE: 1. Sarah Pallay (Hillsborough) 9.550; 2. Zoe Zyvith (Montgomery) 9.200; 3. Brionna Hawkens (Somerville) 9.150; 4. Audrey Warner (Montgomery) 9.075; Jordan Ricca (Montgomery) 9.050; 6. Renee Mallick (Montgomery) 9.000.

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