FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — A gymnastics dynasty has been born in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.
The Freehold Township High School gymnastics team became the first public school in the Garden State to win four state championships when the 2022 Patriots won the program’s fourth state title in six years on Nov. 10 at Brick Memorial High School in Brick Township.
The Patriots scored a team-high 111.625 points at the NJSIAA Team Championships to outdistance seven other squads in the competition.
“I could not be happier with the outcome of this season,” Coach Ashley Montgomery said this week. “The girls exceeded all of my expectations and achieved many of their own goals.”
The gymnasts leading the Patriots to the state championship were seniors Sophia Curley, Louanne Legregin, Kylie Nolan, Emily Rogers and Haylie Warren; juniors Amber French, Addison Koziol and Kathryn Santise; sophomores Maria Bellomo, Alexis Czarrunchick, Kayla Hanwacker, Lauren Ulon and Savannah Ziccardi; and freshmen Sasha Alkoc, Gabriela Kierkowski and Haley Smith.
Freehold Township won three consecutive state titles from 2017-19. After winning the school’s fourth state crown in 2022, the Patriots have vaulted ahead of Toms River North High School and Lenape High School, each of which has won three state titles.
Red Bank Catholic High School has won the most state championships – 11 – since the competition began in 1974.
Freehold Township’s success over the last six seasons has come under the tutelage of Montgomery, who became the coach before the 2017 season. She has guided the team to a 72-0 record in regular season meets and four state titles.
Montgomery credited the program’s success to the gymnasts who have stayed with the team process during each season.
“I believe my expectations help them exceed their own expectations,” the coach said. “We set goals for each gymnast before every season and as they achieve each goal we keep adding others to try and achieve.”
Freehold Township was 12-0 in its meets in 2022. The Patriots won the Shore Conference A-North Division championship, the Shore Conference Tournament title and the NJSIAA Central Jersey Section I crown before ending their historic season by winning the state championship.
“Our (winning) tradition drives our girls. They see what our past groups have accomplished and want to achieve that as well,” said Montgomery.
The Patriots defeated Saint John Vianney High School of Holmdel to win the Shore Conference Tournament on Oct. 30 at Brick Memorial High School and then edged the Lancers, 111.475 to 110.725, to win their fourth consecutive state sectional championship on Nov. 5 at Manalapan High School. At the state team championships five days later, Saint John Vianney finished third, two spots behind Freehold Township.
Rogers, Czarrunchick, Legregin and Santise were the core leaders who helped the Patriots win all four of their championships this season, said Montgomery.
“They were all really good at competing under pressure in big meets. They were great leaders and set the tone for us,” she said.
Rogers capped her senior campaign with an impressive performance at the NJSIAA Individual Championships on Nov. 12 in Brick Township. She won the balance beam and finished second on vault to place second in the all-around competition.
Czarrunchick placed third in the individual state championships.
Montgomery credits the gymnasts with being a “family” on and off the floor and said that togetherness has helped them continue to win each season.
“Since I came here, I wanted to instill being a family,” she said. “We support each other from the start of the season to the end of the season.”
The Patriots have become a dynasty during the past six seasons and the best part about that, according to Montgomery, is seeing all of the hard work the gymnasts have put in pay off and being a part of their story as their coach.
“I love coaching and I am happy to keep doing it” at Freehold Township, she said.