The St. Francis Prep, Fresh Meadows, gymnastics team is quickly becoming a dynasty.
For the third consecutive season, the team won the CHSAA sectional championship title on Oct. 28, 2013.
Gymnastics is a sport that tends to fly under the radar, but these young ladies have the talent to keep bringing the sport back into the forefront.
The team is comprised of 12 L’il Terriers that compete as a combined group of varsity and junior varsity student-athletes. St. Francis Prep is the only diocesan school that competes in a four-team league with Kellenberg M.H.S., Uniondale, L.I.; St. John the Baptist H.S., West Islip, L.I.; and Holy Trinity H.S., Hicksville, L.I.
The season starts in late August and continues until late October. Each team plays in a home and away dual meet with each of the other teams in the league for a total of six regular season matchups. Each meet features four events – vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise – with each competitor taking part in each event.
The Prep finished the season 6-0 in team competition on both the varsity and junior varsity levels.
“It’s really been fantastic,” said head coach Kamla Modi, who has coached the team for eight years. “I’ve been happy every year seeing the girls grow throughout the year. It’s a wonderful experience being able to coach no matter what level they are. Learning from our experiences and seeing how much we’ve grown just in that two months, it happens every year.”
At the championships, the girls were recognized for their regular season team achievements and then got to compete individually to showcase their personal talents.
Junior Khayla Martinez took home first place in the varsity individual all-around competition for the second straight year. Second place went to St. Francis senior Nicole Donini.
On the junior varsity level, senior Madison Kolnsberg won the individual all-around.
“These last three years, we’ve had a super-powerhouse strong team,” Modi said. “We’ve started out strong, so there’s been more confidence. When you start to win, it starts to become the norm.”
Modi noticed right away that last fall was going to be a special season. St. Francis was slated to host its rival Kellenberg in the first meet of the season.
Kellenberg is always a tough opponent, and the L’il Terriers had a bit of an inconsistent week of practice leading up to the meet. But the team also knew that a victory would really set the tone for the entire season.
Of course, the girls delivered a statement win.
“They all came together, and they just made it happen,” Modi said. “This was the best meet I saw them do. The rest of the season was amazing too, but that meet set the precedent.”
Now in the offseason, the team trains individually at local gymnasiums but every once in a while will take part in an open gym session as a team at Aviator Sports Complex in Brooklyn.
Training is a year-round process, so Modi is sure to stay updated on her girls’ training regimens in the months leading up to the fall.
“This is not a sport that you can only be doing two months out of the year,” Modi said. “You really need to be in shape.”
While the team may still be celebrating its 2013 championship title, it’s never too early to start looking forward to the 2014 season.
The L’il Terriers are the three-time defending champs after all and are surely gearing up for a fourth straight title.