The Press Newspaper
All things being equal, Jody DeMeo would have rather had her Clay gymnastics team win the team title on Feb. 8 at the Three Rivers Athletic Conference Championships, held at the Exceleration Gymnastics Center in Toledo.
DeMeo, however, isn’t complaining after winning the individual all-around TRAC title. She earned that title by winning the floor exercise and tying for first place on the beam. She tied for third on bars and tied for sixth on vault, earning her TRAC Gymnast of the Year honors.
She is the first Clay gymnast to win that award since Kylee Ault led the Eagles to the City League title in 2011.
“I didn’t really think about (winning the all-around) until a week before the meet,” said DeMeo, a senior. “My coach (Nick Distel) was like, ‘you could win this TRAC meet.’ I didn’t think about it, then it was in my head. It was kind of a goal going in. I really wanted my team to win, too. We did really well, so I was really happy.”
Clay finished second behind TRAC champion Findlay for the second straight year, by a final combined team score of 141.70 to 140.60.
“They’ve been the team to beat all year, and last year,” Distel said. “Throughout the season we haven’t had a full lineup on all events, but the girls have really been upgrading their skills and getting healthy, and I can sense the confidence in them. I’ve been doing this sport a long time, and you get the feeling as a coach when the team is peaking. I feel absolutely this team is peaking. I think they have more in them.”
The Eagles will compete at the district meet on Feb. 21 at Bowling Green State University. The top two teams and top six individuals in each event advance to the state meet in Hilliard. Clay competed at the state meet in 2011 and ‘12.
The 5-foot-1 DeMeo scored a career-best 9.300 on the floor exercise and said that performance was one of her best, along with the beam. She and Kyleigh Baird of St. Ursula Academy tied for first on beam.
“While I was doing it, I wasn’t thinking about winning,” DeMeo said. “I was really happy and in the moment, and my team was really supportive. I had one of the happiest floor routines I’ve ever done. I have trouble smiling (during the event), but I smiled a lot. I tried to do my best. I didn’t have any big flaws and I thought I did well.
“On beam, I just have to do what I know I can do. Just stay solid in everything and just have confidence. You can’t second-guess yourself. You practice every day and I always would make my beam routine in practice and then fall in a meet. You have to know that you can make it and do what you can do. I felt like I did my best and didn’t have many wobbles at all. I have a good amount of difficulty, lots of bonus.”
Distel said DeMeo has had “a pretty good season” and has improved her skills on beam.
“She’s awesome on beam,” he said. “There’s no other way to put it. So clean and so tight. That means all her skills are the way they’re supposed to be. Just really good technique. That’s her specialty. This last meet, she was just dialed in. That was definitely the best meet I’ve ever seen her have in four years. She is consistent and is good on all of the events. Jody’s biggest strength is she is working very hard and is a very level-headed kid.”
DeMeo’s all-around TRAC title was even more special given the fact that she didn’t compete at the conference meet last season. She suffered a stress fracture in her lower back, which caused her to miss nearly three months of the 2012-13 season. She hasn’t had any issues this season.
“I do think about it, because it scares me that it could come back,” DeMeo said. “I have to continue to do physical therapy. It doesn’t really bother me. Sometimes if you work it too hard, it will hurt and you just have to take it easy.”
DeMeo added that she appreciated winning the all-around TRAC title because she is a senior and this was her last TRAC championship meet.
“I knew I had a chance, but I had to have a good meet,” she said. “I didn’t win by that much, so I really did have to have a good meet. Sometimes you win meets and you know going in you’re going to win because there isn’t much competition. I felt this meet was a true victory because I had to beat other people who could beat me and have beaten me in the past.”
Some of the other top performances turned in by the Eagles at the TRAC meet included senior Amtheyst Floyd, who was fourth in the all-around, third on floor, tied for fourth on beam, sixth on vault and tied for sixth on bars; senior Emilie Roman tied for fourth on vault and tied for 15th on bars; senior Erin Gyruke was sixth on beam, 10th on vault and tied for 10th on floor; and sophomore Ashley O’Neal was third on beam and tied for 19th on bars.
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