Darien gymnastics take fifth at Class M meet; Perkins, Schmidt qualify for Open

The Darien gymnastics team tied for first place on the vault and held its overall seeding to finish fifth at the CIAC Class M championships, held Saturday at Jonathan Law in Milford.

The Blue Wave scored 128.475 points as a team, finishing in a tight group from fourth through sixth place. The Killingly/Putnam/Tourtellotte co-op was fourth at 128.625, and Farmington was sixth at 128.200.

New Milford won the Class M title with a score of 134.800, with Wilton second at 133.925.

Darien’s best event was the vault, as the Wave scored 34.100, tying Warde for the first in the event.

On an individual level, Darien gymnasts outperformed many of their rivals, notably freshman Olivia Perkins. Sprinting toward the horse, she took it head-on and stuck a tsuk pike on vault that won her the meet’s top vault score at 9.025.

Co-captain Lana Schmidt’s soaring half-on half-off twist on the vault added an 8.7 to Darien’s numbers.

Co-captain Kerry McDermott’s smooth and determined 8.2, her best vault of the season, and an action-packed 8.175 fired off by junior Lauren Grandon, gave the Wave their first-place tie with Warde.

Darien placed sixth overall on bars and seventh on beam and floor.

In addition to her vault win, Perkins collected fourth on bars with a score of 8.250. Co-captain Schmidt grabbed eighth on beam (8.5) and 15th on floor (8.525).

Both Perkins and Schmidt advanced to the CIAC State Opens championship, which will be held on Saturday, March 7, at New Milford High School. Perkins will compete on bars and vault, and Schmidt will compete on vault, beam, and floor.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to go to Opens,” Schmidt said. “I hope to maintain consistency and do solid routines.”

Schmidt, Perkins, and sophomore Maggie Russell represented the team as all-around competitors at the Class M meet, earning scores of 33.225, 33.675 and 29.925, respectively.

In the personal best category, freshman Mia MacDonald turned in a 6.95 on bars that reflected her will to improve and dedication to the team this season. Co-captain McDermott hit her best bars (6.6) and vault scores this year. Junior Lucy Collins’s chiseled delicacy on floor flowered into a personal record 7.95, while Russell’s skills matched to a sprightly hoedown-themed soundtrack resulted in an 8.15, her highest floor points for 2019-20.

On beam, sophomore Sommer Schmidt performed a double back walkover with her usual rock-steadiness, producing a 7.7 that contributed to the team’s overall score. Freshman Abby Kissko sprang a fabulous 7.925 vault, while Alex Decsi, also a freshman, swung through a switch kip on bars that did the team credit.

“Today confirms that if I persevere and work hard, then nothing, not even an injury like the one I just recovered from, can stop me from doing what I want to do,” co-captain McDermott said.

Her reflective moment was bittersweet, though, because Saturday was her last meet as a high-schooler. She and co-captain Schmidt have been teammates since elementary school on Darien’s YMCA Gymnastics club team.

“This was a wonderful meet for Kerry and Lana,” coach Judy Zakim said. “What a nice way to finish with their teammates.

“The girls have grown so close and worked so nicely together. I’m especially proud that every member of our team was able to compete all season.”