Powered by a strong effort in the uneven parallel bars and junior Nicole Rozsa’s all-around performance, Cuyahoga Falls topped Solon and Stow to win the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division gymnastics title at Medina High School on Saturday afternoon.
After the meet, with the team on the podium, Cuyahoga Falls coach Jessica Farina walked up to members of the team and said their overall score — 134.575 — almost in disbelief. It is evidence of how far the Black Tigers have come the past couple of years to end Stow’s two-year run in the division.
“The girls have worked so hard, I’m just happy that they’re happy,” Farina said. “And I’m happy that they finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Especially the seniors, they’re finally seeing their hard work pay off over the last four years.”
Cuyahoga Falls had been building for a couple of years, acting as the contender who hadn’t yet put it all together. Farina says that’s happened as the team became closer with one another this season.
“We’ve had a lot of team bonding lately,” she said. “The girls are helping each other, they’re becoming friends. And that’s what made us stronger.”
That team chemistry has been led by senior Stephanie Rozsa, who’s almost taken on a role as player-coach.
“She’s a senior and she’s our leader,” Farina said. “She’s everything. She leads us, she motivates us, she coaches us. She’s great.”
Rozsa placed sixth in the all-around competition with a score of 32.750, which included a 9.00 in the floor exercise that Farina called “amazing.”
Although it was her younger sister, Nicole, who stole the show on Saturday. Nicole Rozsa either took first or tied for first in three of the four events (vault, uneven parallel bars, floor exercise) en route to being named all-around champion and NOC River Division Most Valuable Player with a total score of 35.150, the highest total score of her career.
“It means a lot, and I’ve really worked hard for this for three years,” Rozsa said. “We all worked really hard today and it showed with what we did today.”
Nicole Rozsa took fifth overall last year with a score of 33.40.
“I’m so proud of Nicole,” Farina said. “She’s been so close for the last two years and then this year she was able to pull it off. I’m just really proud of her.”
Rozsa scored a 9.050 in the vault, an 8.50 in the uneven parallel bars and a 9.10 in the floor exercise, taking first place in each. She also placed fifth in the balance beam with an 8.50.
The Black Tigers’ won by over three team points, outdoing Solon’s 131.50 and Stow’s 130.975. Cuyahoga Falls took first place in three of the four events (vault, uneven bars and floor exercise) with the widest margin coming in the uneven parallel bars with a score of 32.00, nearly two full points ahead of Solon at 30.150. Falls placed four of the top six in the event, including a tie for the top score (8.50) by Rozsa.
The Rozsa sisters also pushed Falls to victory with the top two scores in the floor exercise, a 9.10 for Nicole and Stephanie’s 9.00.
Cuyahoga falls freshman Maddie Johnston took third in the all-around competition and scored 34.150 overall. She took third in the vault, fourth in the uneven parallel bars and sixth in the balance beam.
Solon’s Olivia Bell took second in the all-around with a 34.950. Stow’s Erin Kolke placed fourth at 33.10. Faith Brown of Stow posted the top score in the balance beam with a 8.90.
In the Valley Division, Strongsville placed first (139.650), followed by Hudson (139.275). Hudson’s Logan Custer took first in the floor exercise with a 9.325 and placed third in the all-around. Medina’s Samantha Borrelli won the all-around competition with a score of 36.350.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.