Wakefield gymnasts stick historic win vs. Melrose

Jan 9, 2019 by

Published January 9, 2019

WAKEFIELD — For the first time in over a decade, the Wakefield gymnastics team got to celebrate a win against perennial powerhouse Melrose as they defended their home gym with a 141.6-137.7 victory. 

The Warriors and Red Raiders matched up on Friday night at WMHS for the first meet of the 2019 season. Wakefield, returning many promising student athletes from last year’s terrific season, knew they could match up with anybody, even a Melrose program that has long been out of their reach. 

The two teams were nearly even after the vault with Melrose having a slight lead, 35.95-35.9. Wakefield freshman Molly Grady had the best performance for the Warriors with a 9.3. Wakefield’s returning league All-Stars, sophomores Giana Liotine (9.15) and Lola Barrett (9.0) both scored well in the vault to help the Warriors keep pace. 

CAPTAIN Elise Rich changed the momentum of Wakefield’s matchup against Melrose with an 8.85 on the balance beam to help the Warriors beat the Red Raiders for the first time in recent memory. (Donna Larsson Photo)

Keeping pace, wasn’t exactly the gameplan for Wakefield during bars. Two Warriors, Barrett and Sydney Yee both scored a 9.0 on the bars to really prove that the home team was capable of winning. Those scores were higher than any Melrose competitor on the bars and along with an 8.6 from Liotine and an 8.4 from Grady, the Warriors won bars 35-33.5. 

With the score 70.9-69.45, the balance beam would have the potential to decide the meet. Wakefield turned to their leaders, specifically three experienced competitors who figured this was as good as time as any to make an early-season statement. 

Lola Barrett scored an incredible 9.4 on the beam. With the highest Melrose score being 8.8, Barrett gave the Warriors an advantage they wouldn’t relinquish. Barrett’s 36.7 was the highest score of the four all-around competitors. 

“Lola Barrett had an amazing first meet of the season,” said head coach Rachel Lucas.

It wasn’t just Barrett who provided some heroics on the beam. Grady (8.7) and Courtney Collins (8.7) both provided the depth that any team needs to be great.

The Warriors also counted on their junior captain, Elise Rich, who stuck an 8.85. Rich will be counted on all season to be a leader. 

“Her leadership and skill was a big anchor for the team’s win,” said Lucas of Rich. 

Altogether, Wakefield beat Melrose 35.65-32.9 on the beam, helping them take a commanding 106.55-102.35 lead heading into the final event, the floor exercise. 

The Warriors were just barely edged on the floor, 35.35-35.05 but they certainly did enough to hold on to the win. 

Barrett was again the team leader on the floor with a 9.3. Ava Licciardi added an 8.65, Alana Willis got an 8.3 and Liotine got an 8.2. 

Grady concluded her impressive all-around performance (35.2) with her second best score of the day, an 8.8 on the floor. 

“Molly Grady had a very impressive high school debut,” said Lucas. 

The talent and composure of the Warriors to defeat a team like Melrose should most definitely be a sign of a great season on the horizon. The historic win was certainly celebrated, but Wakefield is focused on a larger goal this year. 

“We are happy with the first win of the season, but still have six meets to go,” said Lucas. “We are looking forward to the success we can have this season with some concentration and focus.”

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