NEW MILFORD - Anytime you move up in the seedings is impressive. Scoring above your regular-season average at a state meet is also impressive because the judging is tougher across the board and the judges mark harder than they do in the regular season.

Give the fifth-seeded Darien gymnastics team credit for accomplishing both feats. Darien averaged 133.692 points in the regular season but at the Class M championships at New Milford last Saturday, it tallied 134.775 points to finish third, leap-frogging past fourth-place Daniel Hand (134.475) and fifth-place Wilton (132.9), who was ironically the third-seed.

"I was very proud of the team," Lady Blue Wave senior co-captain Morgan Whitehead said. "We came through when we had to and I'm happy with our turnout. We went into the meet hoping to bump up our score and we're happy to do it."

Woodstock Academy (139.075) won and Pomperaug (138.35) took second, which kept Darien from qualifying for tomorrow's State Open meet at Pomperaug as a team.

"I'm very proud of the girls for working very hard," Lady Blue Wave senior co-captain Elsa Imbimbo said. "We worked hard in the gym on our routine, which helped us move up to third. I would have really liked for the team to go to Open but I'm happy with what we did. We pulled together as a team and did our best."

Darien scored a 34.675 on vault, a 34.175 on the balance beam, a 33.725 on the uneven bars and a 32.2 on floor exercise.

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Whitehead was the team's top all-around scorer by tallying 36.325 points. She was exceptional on bars with a 9.425.

"I worked hard on it the entire week before the meet and the extra practice helped," Whitehead said.

On vault, she got off a stellar jump and stuck her tsuk in scoring a 9.175.

"I ran very fast and lived off the thrill of the pressure," Whitehead said.

Whitehead had perfect balance in scoring a 9.175 on beam.

"It was one of my best beam routines ever," Whitehead said. "It's tough to start the meet on beam but the team did well on it. I wanted to bump up my skills and difficulty and I worked hard on it the entire week before the meet."

Whitehead had an 8.55 on floor.

"It was exciting going to floor after a great beam routine," Whitehead said.

Imbimbo (33.05) had the team's second highest all-around score. Vault (8.85) was her best routine as she stuck her front handspring full.

"Working hard in practice and having the support of my teammates helped me," Imbimbo said. "Their cheering for me was important and it helped me do my best."

On beam (8.45), she had perfect balance. She also did well on floor (8) and bars (7.75).

"Everyone cheering for me helped me maintain my focus," Imbimbo said.

Juniors Katie Southworth (32.725) and Katherine Mosher (32.675) also contributed to the Lady Blue Wave's success. Southworth scored an 8.3 on vault, an 8.025 on bars, an 8.55 on beam and a 7.85 on floor and Mosher tallied an 8.35 on vault, 8.525 on bars, 8 on beam and a 7.8 on floor.

Although Darien didn't make State Open, Whitehead will be competing as an all-around, Southworth will compete on vault and beam and Imbimbo on vault. Mosher's average was 1/100th of a point short of competing as an all-around.

"I'll work hard, do the best I can and hope to be there for my teammates," Imbimbo said.

Whitehead said, "I'm very proud of the two girls who qualified with me and we hope to perfect the routines we worked hard on in the offseason."