Pinkerton Academy veteran gymnastics coach Chelsie Burland has learned to plan for something unexpected and challenging to arise in the days or hours before her Lady Astros compete for a New Hampshire championship.
It has happened just about every year since Burland took over the PA post, including last February, when then junior star Brittany Capozzi had to overcome the effects of a chronic illness to lead the Lady Astros to the 2013-14 Division I championship.
Capozzi was just fine this time around, as she and her undefeated Pinkerton teammates looked to repeat at D-I champs at Salem High School last Saturday, Feb. 14 after dominating all of their competition during the regular season.
But adversity came to visit yet again in the form of a case of the flu to all-around standout Julianna Corsetto, the Lady Astros’ second big gun behind star senior Capozzi.
Corsetto soldiered on through the state title event, but wasn’t in top form due to the flu’s effects. Pinkerton still repeated as state champs, but their margin of victory over the runner-up Bishop Guertin Lady Cardinals of Nashua – 137.275 to 133.10 – wasn’t anywhere near as large as many folks had anticipated it would be.
“We left the door open somewhat on bars and beam, but we’re still going to win by five (points) and I’m pretty happy with how we did,” said Burland just moments before learning that her squad’s margin of victory over Guertin was just a bit more than four points.
Capozzi had the strong day her team needed – especially in light of Corsetto’s illness – in winning the floor exercise (score of 9.2) and the uneven bars (9.5), nabbing second in the all-around (36.55), taking third on vault (9.250), and finishing fourth on balance beam (8.6).
Her superb performance on bars was particularly impressive to her coach.
“I haven’t seen a 9.5 on bars in years, and it was well-deserved,” said Burland, who is a gymnastics judge at high-level events herself.
Other Pinkerton scorers in the championship performance were Kylie Muzerall (third) and Corsetto and Jackie Bogaczyk (tied for sixth) in the floor exercise.
The Lady Astros will now prepare to be the first Granite State school to host the New England championships on Saturday, March 14, and since the start of the current campaign Burland has made no secret that she expects her charges to be right in the running for the regional crown against the best the area has to offer.