GANNON's Simmons RockwellCayga Health Guthrie Sports Med Southern Tier Sports ReportDANDY MINI MARTS FIRST HERITAGE FCU WILLIAMS AUTO GROUPColdiron


By Brian Fees
Southern Tier Sports Report
It has been six years since Corning has had athletes competing in the state gymnastics championships, but this year a pair of Hawks will make the trip to states.

Anna Zahradka and Maddy Waksmunski will each make the trip to Kenmore West High School for the NYSPHSAA Championships.

“It was really exciting,” Corning coach Rebecca Volpe said. “I think with Covid we kind of lost that opportunity to even think about the chance to go to states again. I have been doing this for 23 years and I have been coordinator for Section 4 and back when I started coaching we actually had other teams in the section still. We used to have a sectional and still compete against another team in Norwich in order to complete a team. When Norwich dropped their team I always took the top six from Corning. At one point the talent kind of dropped off a bit, so we made a pact the AD and I that we would wait until we had athletes that were in the top six again.

“With Covid, Anna probably should have been going even the last couple of years, but because of that it didn’t even give us the chance to think about it. Then, this year, when the judges up there said they’ve love to see them represent our section. I believe we are going to tag on with Section 5 even at the state meet, so we’ll be rotating with them, which is good, because they know all the girls and we know the coaches, so it should be a good time.”

It had been six years, but when the judges approached Volpe saying the girls should compete it was something that led to this happening, and is good for the program.

“Haven’t been to states in six years, the judges in Section 5 approached me and asked if the two girls could compete this year,” Volpe said. “If we ever had kids that placed in the top sex in Section 5 we had said we would think about taking them. When the judges mentioned it I emailed the section coordinator and got the whole ball rolling and that’s how we ended up here. Its’ really cool the judges felt they deserved that place.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for all the girls in Corning to see the opportunity. Also, now that seventh graders have been offered the opportunity to take the test again and classify, that’s when I started losing some girls. Because they would pick different sports in the modified program. Now that it’s being offered again I think I’ll be able to get a few more kids early on that I intend to keep for six years, which is beautiful because I think that’s what is different and unique about gymnastics. We really are like a little family and that’s what is special about it.”

For the girls it is special to get this chance to go to states.

“And, it’s our senior year, so I feel like we are leaving on a good note,” Zahradka said. “I think it will be really special, and we (Anna and Maddy) are really close, so I think it will be a good memory.”

For Maddy this is her first year competing with the Hawks, and she’s headed to states.

“This is my first year doing gymnastics for The school, so I feel like it’s special for me,” Waksmunski said. “I did it for like seven or eight years recreationally and I just wanted to get back into it my senior year.”

Anna being on the team was one of the big draws for Waksmunski to join the team.

“It was one of the main reasons probably,” she said.

For Zahradka it was special to have her friend join the team this year.

“I was really excited, I didn’t expect it, or believe it at first, but I’m glad she did,” Zahradka said.

Wasmunski had played volleyball in the past, but she made the decision this year to switch sports.

“I knew about it (the gymnastics team), but I was just playing different fall sports up until this year and then I just decided to do this. I just never really liked volleyball and I was never good at it, and I felt like gymnastics was something I had confidence I was good at,” she said.

While Waksmunski may have though about gymnastics in the past, she had a hard time giving up volleyball.

“It’s hard to just quit something you have been doing for a couple years,” she said.

Being her senior year made the decision to switch sports easier.

“I knew I wasn’t going to do it in college so I just wanted to have fun my senior year,” she said.

For Zahradka there has been a lot of success with the Corning gymnastics team over the years, but she didn’t ever expect she’d be going to states.

“It’s really cool, I didn’t expect it, but I’m glad we can go,” she said. “I was a little nervous (when she found out she made it), but I was excited.”

The two gymnasts both like having each other to work with.

“She’s been doing it a lot longer than me, I feel like she pushes me more than I push her,” Waksmunski said.

When Waksmunski joined the team she never even knew that states was a possibility.

“I didn’t even think this gymnastics team went to states,” she said. “I didn’t even know about it. So, I thought it was pretty cool. It’s pretty cool the judges thought we were able to go and that we placed in the top six for like every meet.”

Making states is tough in any sport, but gymnastics has some extra challenges for athletes. The Corning athletes have to compete in all their meets out of Section 5 so they are always on the road.

“It’s definitely tough, but for me personally for club gymnastics we go to Rochester and stuff so it’s pretty normal for high school to go to Rochester,” Zahradka said.

“It’s hard, because most of the competition comes from Rochester and Buffalo, so it’s not anything we have seen before,” Wasmunski said. “So, it’s a whole different set of people we are up against.”

While it’s hard to have a ton of classmates and friends at meets, the kids are happy to have their families support.

“My parents go and they are supportive, so I’m thankful for that,” Zahradka said.

Both Corning athletes think that going to states can only help the program and show younger athletes what is possible.

“I think so, it will show we are actually capable of it and they can be part of it if they try,” Zahradka said.

“I think it’s special for Corning because we are like the only gymnastics in the area, so I think it’s a cool showcase of our school,” Wasmunski said.

Both athletes know the competition will be great at states.

“I know there are going to be some really good gymnastics out there, so I feel like it’s going to be fun watching everyone,” Wasmunski said.

“I think it will be cool to see other gymnasts that are at the same level, and maybe better,” Zahradka said. “I think it will be cool, it will be cool to see what they bring to the table, just fun. I think it will be a good experience and it’s fun we get to experience it together.”

Having each other this year just pushed both to get to this point meet after meet.

“It’s nerve-racking, but I’m glad I had Maddy to kind of help me and push me,” Zahradka said. “I think it made it easier having a friend.”

The two have been spending a lot of time together this season, not just for Corning, but also doing club as well.

“I’m also doing club with Anna this year, just to stay in shape from the fall until states now,” Waksmunski said.

The championships begin with opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday at Kenmore West High School.
In Photo: Corning’s Maddy Waksmunski and Anna Zahradka. . . PHOTO BY BRIAN FEES

You've asked about helping ...
here's your chance. Click HERE