The Felines Are Clawing Their Way Through a Rocky Start

The Stuyvesant girls’ gymnastics team has struggled through the first half of their season due to a combination of COVID cases and injuries, but with their key gymnasts fully recovered, they are looking to make a push for a big win this year.

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What is the most physically demanding sport Stuyvesant offers? For many, wrestling or track may immediately come to mind. However, most people overlook another grueling sport that requires extreme body control and discipline: gymnastics. The Felines, Stuyvesant’s girls’ gymnastics team, are commendable for taking on such a strenuous sport but have struggled this year from issues affecting them outside of the gym. In their seven scheduled meets thus far, the Felines were significantly held back by their lack of personnel, as many of their gymnasts were unable to compete. However, the roster is filling up once again as gymnasts are making their returns from quarantine and injuries, and the team now looks poised to take the medal.

A typical school gymnastics team needs around five or six people to compete at a meet. The scoring system tallies the scores of gymnasts to determine the team’s total score for each event. Thus, a team competing with fewer members is put at a significant disadvantage. Unfortunately, this issue has become an all too common reality for the Felines this season, as their shortage of available gymnasts has caused them to lose events despite having higher average scores than the opposing team.

Despite these setbacks, the Felines were able to jump and flip their way to a solid first meet win against John F. Kennedy High School on December 10. The five competing Stuyvesant gymnasts all contributed to the 37-point victory, but sophomore Margaux Scandura and freshman Alisa Long stood out in particular with their stellar performances. Scandura finished with top scores for all three events she competed in, while Long captured a large margin of victory (29.10-13.70) in the all-around finals. The Felines outperformed the JFK gymnasts by four points on an average individual basis and won every event despite being outnumbered. “We don’t have that many people on our team, but everyone we do have is really good, so we’re able to beat some of the schools,” Scandura said.

In certain cases, however, the Felines’ talent has been unable to make up for their lack of personnel. “Bronx Science is definitely our biggest challenge, and we haven’t been able to get past them with the amount of people we have,” Scandura. This season, the Felines have faced the Bronx Science Wolverines in two meets and lost by a margin of over 20 points on both occasions. The Wolverines are definitely a major obstacle, as their two wins over Stuyvesant have prevented the Felines from claiming the top spot in the league. Particularly, in their second meeting on January 12, the Felines lost by 30 points. While Stuyvesant’s gymnasts were not performing at a noticeably lower level than the Wolverines, they were only able to compete with three gymnasts. However, this handicap should be lifted when the two teams meet again on February 2.

With gymnasts returning from various injuries and COVID quarantines, the Felines will soon have a full team together, which will give Stuyvesant a good chance at winning this year—apart from being outnumbered, they looked almost as good as their rivals in previous meets. “Personally, I’m upset I haven’t competed against them yet, but we will be facing [Bronx Science] at finals, and I’m super excited to show them our gymnastics,” junior Daria Minhas, who hasn’t been able to compete in most of the meets, said. Minhas competed on the 20th, the Felines’ first meet with most of their gymnasts back. Stuyvesant outplaced third-ranked John F. Kennedy in three out of the four events and won by an overall margin of 25 points. Minhas, who won the all-around finals and the vaulting event, is having a visible impact on the team. Moreover, Scandura, who missed most of January in quarantine, is back and performing at her best.

While early season complications held the Felines back from competing at their full potential, the future of girls’ gymnastics at Stuyvesant seems to be back on the track to win a medal, and the girls are determined to make this goal a reality. “We’ve consistently placed fourth in the city for way too many years in a row, and we’re trying to medal this year. That requires beating [Bronx] Science, and with the full potential of the girls on the team this year, I think we have a good shot,” Minhas said.