Former BTHS star gymnast Poplaski learning ‘team concept’ at Towson


Lindsay Poplaski is looking forward to a big year for herself and the Towson University, Maryland, gymnastics team.

The former balance beam state champion at Brick Township High School is ready and eager for the season that goes into full throttle in a few days. She’ll compete in the all-around competition and the beam for the Lady Tigers.

Poplaski and her teammates have an added incentive. They want to give a memorable sendoff to coaches Dick and Lynda Filbert. The couple is retiring after 28 seasons as the coaches. On Jan. 15, the team travels to Fairbanks, Alaska, for a Jan. 15 meet. Poplaski is also preparing for a March 13 meet at Rutgers, the site of the NJSIAA championships, where she was one of the dominant competitors in the beam for three seasons. Rutgers was one of the schools that recruited Poplaski.

“Lindsay is having a great preseason,” Dick Filbert said on the school’s athletic website. “She came back to school in phenomenal shape and we could tell she worked very hard in the off-season. She could be one of our top vaulters and she does a great job on beam and floor. Lindsay could be an all-around for us once again.”

“I’m feeling really good about myself,” Poplaski said.

In her freshman year, she helped Towson win a fifth straight ECAC championship with a 9.675 on floor exercise in the meet’s final rotation. Poplaski’s score was just .05 off being a fifth gymnast from the school among the top six places.

“Everybody started to doubt us that we could do it again,” Poplaski said. “We were under extreme pressure, but everybody did their best and pulled through.”

Poplaski also was one of four Towson gymnasts among the top five in a fiveteam meet the university hosted. She and teammate Alyssa Dittman tied for fourth place in the balance beam with a 9.75. The Lady Tigers compiled their highest score of the season at 193.975 for first place ahead of Bridgeport, William and Mary, Southern Connecticut and Rutgers to cap 17-6 season that coach Dick Filbert called “exceptional.”

The team this year closes out its home schedule on March 20, when the Lady Tigers host Brown and Southern Connecticut at 7 p.m., the final home meet for the Filberts.

“This is basically the same team we had last year with the addition of two more gymnasts,” said Dick Filbert, who has nine returnees with Poplaski as one of the

five sophomores in that group. “We had such a young team last year, and our only senior [Annukka Almenoksa] missed the entire season with a back injury. We had five freshmen that were the nucleus of our team.’

That included Poplaski, who described it as a season of learning for her, competing at a higher level.

“The college experience is a lot different from high school and club,” Poplaski said. “It’s really a team concept here, not individuals.”

She put in a triple series in the beam, instead of a backhand. Now, Poplaski uses a back tuck, backhand spring, layup and then steps out.

“It’s fun to learn a lot of new things and they [coaches] make it work,” Poplaski said. “It’s a whole different atmosphere; the way you do things with the team is totally different.”

She added two new moves to her floor exercise and has refined the Yurchenko move in the vault that she dabbled with in high school.

But Dick Filbert feels the team is deepest in talent in the balance beam, and that certainly makes Poplaski smile.