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December 13. 2012 11:40AM

Salem, Windham, Pelham compete in first meet of year

Salem’s Marrina Mayo, who is returning from a back injury, swings around the uneven bars. Her third-place in the event helped Salem to an overall win. (Dan Moberger Photo)

Salem opened up its gymnastics season with a 130.95-129.5 victory over Bishop Guertin on Monday, Dec. 10.

“This was a good start for us to get the win, not our best, but definitely it’s always great to come away with a win, even if it’s not our proudest performance,” Salem head coach Kyle Redmond said.

Also participating in the meet were Exeter, which scored a 114.5, Pelham, with a 99.45, and two schools competing as independents - Windham and Alvirne.

Bishop Guertin’s Carolyn Nichols won top individual honors as the night’s all-around champion. She came in first in three of the competition’s four events.

Nichols’ total score of 36.45 in the four events - the balance beam, floor excercise, uneven bars and vault - narrowly edged out Salem’s Nina Whittaker.

Whittaker, a freshman, put up a 34.65 total in her first high school meet.

“She has been phenomenal,” Redmond said. “All around, every event, she doesn’t have a weak point.”

Bishop Guertin’s Kasey Bond was third in the all-around standings with a 33.4.

Salem also got strong performances from Sam Cloutier and Marrina Mayo.

Cloutier, a senior captain, scored an 8.95 on vault, which was good enough for third place. Mayo’s 8.0 on uneven bars also merited a third-place finish.

“Marrina looked great on all her events, and she’s still bouncing back from her back,” Redmond said. “We have a few girls who are out with injuries and stuff, so it’s always great when the girls step up and are really working hard to pull it all together.”

Pelham didn’t scratch the top-three in any event, but got strong performances from several gymnasts, including Julia Barsalou and Cassie Passamonte.

“We had a few kids brand new, so they did pretty well,” Pelham head coach Nicole Denomme said. “Overall, not too bad for the first time out.”

Although Windham, with just four girls on the team, competed as an independent, they managed a top-three finish from Ali Otis. Whittaker and Otis tied for second on the floor excercise with 8.85s.

“I think the expectations that the kids had, they set them to be attainable, and I think they far exceeded them,” Windham head coach Paula Chausse said. “We only have four kids, we’re competing as independents, but we still feel like a team even though we’re small, and they did great.”

Redmond said as the season moves forward, she wants the team to focus on finishing each event without incident.

“We definitely had some struggles on beam,” she said. “I don’t know if anybody hit a full set. That was definitely not a disappointment, but we didn’t do the best that we could.”

Salem hosts another meet Wednesday, Dec. 19. Windham is the only returning opponent in that meet. Also competing are Bedford, Bishop Brady, John Stark and Milford.

Pelham’s next meet is Tuesday, Dec. 18 against Coe-Brown, Dover, Farmington, Portsmouth Christian and Raymond, at Spaulding.

With girls getting healthy and improving, Redmond said Salem’s win in its first meet is a solid foundation to build on.

“I think that we’re on the right path,” Redmond said. “I think that, next meet, we have more to work toward. We don’t want to peak too early.”

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