STONINGTON — Leslie Gomes doesn't hesitate when asked to compare this season to the others she has experienced during her 27 years as Stonington High's gymnastics coach.
"This is by far the best season we've had," Gomes said. "And it was the smallest team I've ever had. By the time we got to states, we only had six gymnasts left, so everybody did all-around."
Stonington qualified for the State Open as a team for the first time. It was one of the team's top goals when the season started.
Only four teams qualify and three of them were from Class S, the division Stonington competes in at the state level.
The Bears finished third at the Class S meet and second at the ECC championships by 0.9 points to perennial power Woodstock Academy. Stonington's score of 138.5 at the ECC championships was a school record.
Stonington also beat Woodstock during the regular season, the first setback for the Centaurs in 10 years. Woodstock has won eight of the last nine State Open meets.
In addition to all of the team accolades, five gymnasts earned All-State recognition.
Junior Hanna Laskey, freshman Lydia Laskey and junior Katya Torruella were first-team selections while juniors Ruth Greene and Lila Rich made second team.
Both the Laskeys, who are sisters, were also All-ECC. Hanna Laskey was second in all-around at the ECC championship meet, while Lydia was fifth. The top six are honored.
The top 20 gymnasts at the State Open meet in any event are first-team All-State. The next 20 are second team.
Hanna Laskey qualified for the New Englands in both the vault and floor. The event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
She was sixth on vault at the State Open, eighth on floor and tied for 19th on uneven bars.
"She is very talented and she's worked hard to get where she is," Gomes said. "She has a very difficult floor routine with the skills she puts into it. She has a very nice vault. The start value is high and when she gets high enough off the table she's really good."
Lydia Laskey qualified for the New Englands in the beam. She tied for 11th at the Open meet in the event. She was tied for 14th on floor and 16th on vault.
"She is awesome on beam, that is definitely her top event," Gomes said. "She has a great sense of where she is. Some people just have that ability to know where they are on the beam and she has it. She's quiet, a hard worker."
Torruella is a powerful gymnast. She was 16th on the floor at the Open meet, tied for 23rd on bars and 27th on beam.
"She has the legs on her that allow her to have the punch to get off the floor," Gomes said. "She does great on floor. She is an overall hard worker. She excels on the beam, almost never falls off."
Rich excels on the beam for the Bears, and she placed 21st at the Open meet.
"She stays on and she's very smooth doing it," Gomes said. "Just like Lydia and Katya, she's very solid on beam."
Greene's best event was the uneven bars. She finished 31st at the Open.
"She swings really nice and she is tall and lean," Gomes said. "She just looks nice doing bars and she has good skills, too."
For next year, Stonington returns all six gymnasts that qualified for the Open this season. Still, the Bears will have to contend with Woodstock.
"After this season, I would say anything is possible. We lost to them by nine-tenths (of a point) at the ECC (meet)," Gomes said.