WESTFIELD, NJ — After an undefeated season, the Westfield High School gymnastics team came in second place to Scotch Plains-Fanwood at the Union County Finals.

The team was hoping for a win Thursday, but for team captain Izzy Cano and coaches Amanda Diaz and Jenna Zito, the event was not just about winning but the culmination of a great season in spite of COVID-19.

“After getting the team results, we weren’t shocked we got second because the meet wasn’t our best,” Cano said. “We went undefeated the whole season so getting second was frustrating because we knew we could do better, but we all encouraged each other to stay positive throughout and tried to come back from our mistakes.”

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Diaz said the Lady Blue Devils had to change things up because of some injuries.

“We knew we didn’t have our best meet, so we were happy with second place,” Diaz said. “We were working through some injuries, which required us to change the line-up a couple of times right before the competition began. Injuries and COVID aside, the girls were just so excited to be able to compete with all the teams in the county under one roof.”

At every gymnastics competition, the teammates hype each other up under Cano’s lead. While there was more pressure for this last meet, Cano told her teammates to just have confidence and that they are good at what they do.

“To get my team excited for counties we all sat in a circle, and we go around saying positive affirmations encouraging each other,” she said.

Cano said she also reminded her teammates that they worked hard during the season.

“After the meet we all just remind each other how we are proud of each other and how they did their best,” she said. “We also love to play our favorite team songs on the bus while going to the meets.”

For Cano, the season means much more to her than only competition. 

“My favorite part of the season is spending time with the girls I’ve known since I was little,” she said. “We’ve all been doing club gymnastics together since preschool, so going into high school season we are already super close. We are all best friends and it’s so much fun to practice together every day.” 

For Diaz, the fact that the team was able to compete was valuable in itself, since back in the fall, the team did not know if they would be able to compete. The team is hoping to learn from this match specifically, and come back even stronger next season. 

“We learned that even if one event doesn’t go our way, we need to shake it off and not let it affect the rest of the competition. We will take the mistakes we made this year and let that drive us to work harder and do better in the fall,” Diaz said. 

Zito added: “Not every single routine may go as we hope, but as teammates we need to pick each other up and keep pushing ourselves for all four events.”

As her last season comes to a close, Cano wants the younger girls to cherish their time on the team.

“I feel like yesterday I was going into high school starting gymnastics and now my season is coming to an end,” she said. “I’m so grateful for all the friendships I’ve made and for my coaches who supported me so it’s sad it’s coming to an end but I always knew I had my gymnastics friends to come to whenever I needed anything and I think they should remember that too. They should always remind themselves to stay positive, support each other, and work hard.”

Jordyn Ives is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.

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