With its back against the wall after three event rotations, the Beverly High girls gymnastics team did everything in its power to finish strong on the vault exercise Saturday afternoon.
With the highest team score of the day on an event, the Panthers earned a combined 37.225 on vault to finish in second place (141.575) at Saturday's North Sectional meet held at Hudson High School.
"I kind of rallied the girls before we started vault," said head coach Lauryn Ginsburg. "We had to go big on vault, knowing that teams were very close behind us (in team scoring). Our score (on vault) ended up being our highest of the entire season."
By finishing second, the Panthers were one of four teams at the sectional who now advance to Saturday's state championship meet at Shrewsbury High School (4 p.m.).
Heading into the final rotation, the Panthers fed off their fan section (which was seated right next to the vault) — especially freshman Heather Gomes, who finished first in the event with a 9.6 (the highest individual score of the meet).
Vault has traditionally been one of Beverly's stronger events, so when the Panthers were slated to end the meet on vault, Ginsburg had a feeling they would have a shot at placing at the top of the pack.
Beverly finished just below first-place Andover (143.550) and ahead of third-place Chelmsford (139.125).
The Panthers started the day on bars without one of their top competitors in the event due to injury. Junior Taylor Metta, who normally competes in the all-around, has been battling a shoulder problem for the past few weeks, and Ginsburg thought it was best to take her off bars. Gomes and senior captain Adrianna Beatrice competed in the all-around instead, giving Metta a chance to rest her injured shoulder.
Gomes was third in the all-around (36.750) and was solid on all four events for the Orange-and-Black.
Ginsburg had to make some quick changes after the first rotation. Courtney Hannable got hurt on her dismount on the uneven bars and was taken out of the rest of the meet. Ginsburg slotted in Hannah Rennie on floor exercises in place of the injured Hannable and put in senior Liz Layman on vault. Both had impressive routines given the short notice to prepare.
Usually at a meet like sectionals, the scoring is relatively low because of the level of talent that the judges see. However, Beverly had its third-highest scoring meet of the season. The Panthers did have three falls on the balance beam, one floor and one on bars, which is uncharacteristic of the girls, Ginsburg said.
"Overall, I was absolutely impressed with how the girls did," the coach said. "Placing second was thrilling, and they performed so well under pressure. We have some things we can work on, but we'll figure it out this week."
With just under a week before Saturday's state meet, the Panthers are looking to fix what they did wrong at sectionals and try to improve their score.
"We'll probably practice three days this week," Ginsburg said. "I told the girls that if we made all of the goals that were on the wall in our gym this season, I would host a pasta party — so that's what we're doing on Friday."
Another long bus ride ahead of them, Ginsburg said that the girls really enjoy taking that time to bond and come together as a team.
"They like to listen to music on the way," Ginsburg said. "I always bring them something orange on the ride. Last week was orange Gatorade."
Danvers (137.6) placed fifth, just missing out on a spot to go to states. But the Falcons did manage their third-highest score of the season.
Junior captain Roni Levine finished with a 36.075 and in fifth place in the all-around. Levine had her best showing on vault of the season, earning a 9.5.
Also, Masconomet tied Methuen for ninth place with a 133.725.