Season-best vault lands Poynton in New England championships

NEW MILFORD — A few months ago, Woodland gymnast Kristina Poynton was just rejoining her sport after two injury-riddled years away from the gym.

Now, she can call herself one of the best high school vaulters in Connecticut.

Poynton pulled off her best vault of the season at the State Open on March 6 in New Milford, recording a 9.1 to finish tied for eighth place and earn a berth into the New England championships March 9 in Hudson, Mass.

The result took Poynton, the 38th-seeded athlete in the field of 41, by surprise.

“I was against the top 40 girls in the state and was in 38th place when I qualified, so I was not expecting to get eighth place,” Poynton admitted.

She performed a Tsuk vault, which involves a quarter-turn onto the horse followed by a backflip. Poynton’s score was good for an eighth-place tie, a half-point shy of champion Jessica Olin of Wilton.

Poynton became the first Woodland gymnast to earn a berth into the New England championships and was one of only two Naugatuck Valley League athletes to qualify this season. It was the penultimate meet of her high school career, which will end in May with the National High School Gymnastics Association Senior Showcase Invitational.

“I did not think I would get this far,” Poynton said. “It feels great that I was able to accomplish all of this, even after a two-year break and needing to relearn some skills.”