Kristen Politz knew she only had one chance to leave her mark in high school gymnastics.
St. John Vianney High School fielded a varsity team for the first time this fall, affording Politz, a senior, an opportunity to prove she is one of the best in the state. The Lancers’ standout turned out to be the best.
Politz captured the all-around championship at the NJSIAA individual state championship meet Nov. 14 at Montgomery High School. Politz’s score of 38.525 edged her teammate, Ari Agrapides (38.500), for the most prestigious title in the sport. She also won the floor exercise state title scoring 9.8 with her routine.
“It was a one-time chance. I had to put it all out there,” Politz said. “[The all-around title] was a goal of mine, and I’m happy to achieve it.
“I knew I had to be clean and consistent.”
She placed in the top five in all four events. In addition to the floor exercise victory, she tied for second on the vault (9.725), placed fourth on the beam (9.525) and tied for fifth on the uneven bars (9.525). Politz noted that it was her solid effort on the bars, which was her first event of the competition, that got her started on the right foot. From there, she was on a roll.
Politz credited putting more energy into her floor exercise routine with helping her win that state championship in the event.
The state all-around crown completed an extraordinary season for Politz, who was undefeated in the championship meets. She was the all-around champion at the Shore Conference and NJSIAA Central Jersey, Section I championships en route to the state finals. Her mark of 38.725 at the sectional was the highest score of the year.
Politz gained further momentum at the state team championships Nov. 12, when she had the highest all-around score to lead St. John Vianney to second place behind Red Bank Catholic High School (112.925- 112.650), which won its second straight NJSIAA crown. Politz pointed out it was important because she was able to get used to the equipment at Montgomery.
Those meets gave Politz confidence heading to Montgomery, but it also put the pressure on her as the favorite. She said the way she handles pressure is to pretend she’s at practice. To prepare for the season, Politz, who lives in Marlboro and competes for Rebound Gymnastics, got herself up to date on the rules and requirements for high school gymnastics — compared to club gymnastics.
“I changed my routine a lot,” she said.
As impressive as Politz’s season was, St. John Vianney’s was just as stunning. The Lancers finished second at the NJSIAA Team Championships, also at Montgomery, in their debut season. Their season-high score of 113.225 (at the state sectional) was extraordinary. It’s higher than most established successful programs have ever scored.
For Politz, who is headed to Penn State University, being a part of her school team was added incentive to excel.
“[The team] definitely helps to have people motivate you,” she said. “You are competing for your team.”
Politz was the team captain, and she took the leadership role seriously, doing everything she could to encourage and help her teammates.
The result was a surprise second-place finish at the state finals.
That result, along with Politz and Agrapides finishing first and second in the all-around competition, put the Lancers on the map.
“The one-two [punch in the all-around] was great for the program,” Politz said.
Politz set the bar very high for a program that is just starting off.