Freehold Township gymnasts win third consecutive state sectional championship

The Freehold Township High School gymnastics team celebrates winning the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Section I championship on Nov. 6 in Manalapan. PHOTO COURTESY OF CARLEE SOBOTKA
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The Freehold Township High School gymnastics team celebrates winning the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Section I championship on Nov. 6 in Manalapan. PHOTO COURTESY OF CARLEE SOBOTKA

Since Ashley Montgomery took the reins as the coach of the Freehold Township High School gymnastics program in 2017, the Patriots have gone 60-0 in regular season meets and have won three state sectional championships and three state titles.

The 2021 Patriots went 14-0 in their meets and won the Shore Conference A North Division and NJSIAA Central Jersey Section I championships.

“They had a great season,” Montgomery said of her student-athletes. “I am really proud of them.”

The gymnasts on the 2021 roster were seniors Carly Amin and Jenelle Cloud; juniors Sophia Curley, Haylee Haber, Louanne Legregin, Kylie Nolan, Emily Rogers and Haylie Warren; sophomores Amber French, Addison Koziol and Kathryn Santise; and freshmen Maria Bellomo, Kayla Hanwacker, Abigail Lemberger, Lauren Ulon and Savannah Ziccardi.

At the start of the season, Montgomery was not sure what to expect from her new look squad. Half of the gymnasts on the roster were experiencing their first full high school season following a 2020 campaign that was abbreviated by the coronavirus pandemic.

And Montgomery was returning to the sidelines after coaching virtually last season because she was on maternity leave after welcoming her second child.

There were a lot of challenges to be faced, but as Freehold Township’s gymnasts have done since 2017, the 2021 Patriots continued the school’s winning tradition.

“We knew we had a large change going in and had to fight for every single routine,” Montgomery said. “We took nothing for granted and did the best we could.”

Following a 14-0 regular season, the Patriots participated in the Shore Conference Championships and finished second to St. John Vianney High School of Holmdel in the team standings.

Montgomery said her athletes made “a couple of mistakes” during the conference meet and knew they had to correct their routines heading into the state sectional competition, especially with St. John Vianney competing in the same section.

The state sectional meet was held on Nov. 6 at Manalapan High School. The Patriots won the school’s third consecutive sectional crown, outscoring St. John Vianney 111.400 to 109.475 in the team standings.

Cloud led the way for the Patriots in the state sectional meet, scoring 38.25 points and placing first in the all-around. Cloud won the balance beam and tied for first place with St. John Vianney’s Kylie Sitty on the uneven bars.

At the NJSIAA team championship meet on Nov. 11 in Brick Township, Freehold Township placed second in the team standings behind East Brunswick High School.

At the NJSIAA individual championship meet on Nov. 13 in Brick Township, Cloud concluded her scholastic career with a fourth place finish in the all-around.

Following Cloud’s performance in the all-around, Montgomery told the senior how proud she was of her and said she “could not have asked for a better senior season.”

“Jenelle really came out strong this season,” Montgomery said. “She is a very talented gymnast who works hard from the beginning of practice to the end of the practice. She had a great senior season.”

Montgomery said she could not have asked for any more from her gymnasts and said they accomplished most of the goals they set, including winning a Shore Conference division title and a state sectional championship.

“The girls did a great job. They were able to accomplish our goals,” the coach said.