Ailing Athlete Helps PA Gymnasts Return to Top of Heap

The title-winning PA gymnastics team poses with its Division 1 trophy last Saturday afternoon at Salem High School.

When a coach starts throwing around a word like “miracle” in connection with an athlete’s performance – and repeating it over and over – people start to pay attention.

And Pinkerton Academy girls’ gymnastics coach Chelsie Burland considers the glittering performances put forth by veteran Brittaney Capozzi during the 2013-14 state championship meet at Salem High School last Saturday, Feb. 15, which helped to return the undefeated Lady Astros to the top of the state gymnastics mountain, nothing short of miraculous.

Capozzi, who is hampered by a chronic medical condition that relegates her to bed for days when it returns, began showing signs of the condition – with symptoms akin to a concussion – the night before the state competition. But after missing the 2012-13 state meet last winter – which contributed to the PA defeat there after undefeated state championships in 2011 and 2012 – the Lady Astros’ standout was determined to compete this year. And despite basically performing on auto-pilot at last Saturday’s title event, Capozzi helped lead Pinkerton to this year’s championship with some superb work.

The Lady Astros notched the top team score of 138.425 to comfortably best the defending state champs from Salem High and its score of 133.275. And Capozzi wound up finishing second in the all-around competition (score of 36.150) with seconds on the uneven bars (8.825) and the balance beam (9.100), and thirds on vault (9.125) and in the floor exercise (9.1), in which she tied with talented teammate Kaylee Pacunas.

“For her to be able to compete was an absolute miracle,” said Burland. “And she was our top scorer in every single event. She fought this (condition) incredibly hard today.”

Capozzi’s decision to compete was made in connection with her parents and coach, but Burland went from event to event, waiting to see if her standout would be able to perform.

“We made our decisions by event,” said Burland. “We went up to the (judge’s) table with our cards not filled out and waited to see how she did during warm-ups.”

Using Capozzi as its inspiration at the big meet, the rest of the PA squad put forth strong work and helped get back to the title position in the state.

Pacunas notched third places on the bars and the beam as well as the floor, and she ended up fifth overall in the all-around.

Other academy scoring performances came from Kylie Muzerall in the floor exercise and (fourth) and Juliana Arrabino and Jacqueline Bogaczyk (tied for fifth) on floor as well.

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