By Michael Muldoon
It's pretty safe to assume Chelsie Veilleux will never forget Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012.
Not only did the second-year coach guide Pinkerton to its third straight state gymnastics title yesterday at Salem High, but just before she was to receive the championship plaque, she got a wedding proposal.
Good news for Chelmsford High history teacher/lacrosse coach Jason Burland, she accepted.
"He proposed and the people in the stands were crying," said the future Mrs. Burland. "All my girls came up to hug me and asked, 'Are we invited?'"
After yesterday's performance, they had better be!
"Absolutely!" Veilleux assured of the invitations.
With it's 142.175 score, Pinkerton easily outdistanced runner-up Salem (128.925), third-place Londonderry (127.55) and the rest of the 11-team field.
"That's pretty much the equivalent of eight touchdowns," said Veilleux of the victory margin.
The team total was the third highest in the 36-year history of the state meet, trailing only Pinkerton in 1996 (142.8) and 2006 (143.5).
Junior tri-captain Olivia Bogaczyk and senior tri-captain Courtney Thompson went 2-3 in the all-around.
Thompson, who is deciding between a couple of Division 1 schools (Temple and UNH), also won the vault with a 9.35. She tied all-around winner Paige Smith of Farmington.
"Courtney did a Yerchenko Pike," explained Veilleux. "That's a much more difficult entry on the board ... a roundoff, back handspring before the board and the a flip off the horse in a pike position. It was great. They only found 0.25 (deductions) in the execution. It was a near-perfect vault."
The other Astro win was by the junior Bogaczyk, who took her third straight bars championship.
"It was an overshoot handstand," said Veilleux. "That's coming from the high bar to the low bar and you do a half turn and catch the bar into a handstand. What makes it so tough is she then goes straight into another release mode called a toe catch. She makes everything on bars look so easy."
In addition to the 1-2 punch of Bogaczyk and Thompson, the Astros, who have been unbeaten the last two years, showed eye-popping depth.
Freshman Amanda Scioli, who is coming back from a fractured foot, placed second in the vault, the first time she's done the event this winter.
Veilleux called sophomore Kylie Lowell "a rock all season" and also had praise for senior Camille Jennings, junior Maggie Cameron and sophomore Ally Decloux. The Astros are a tough bunch and the toughest might be senior Anne Lewis, who made her return from a dislocated elbow, much to the amazement of the coach.
It was an unforgettable all-around day for the Astros, who came in first as a team in each event.
"We do have a lot of talent," said Veilleux, who starred on Nashua's 2002 state championship team and then was a second-team All-American and an Academic All-American at Ithaca College. "But that's not what won the championship for us. It's all the hard work they put in. They just continue to push, push, push."
Salem's Tommasi shines
Sophomore Kadianne Tommasi led the runner-up Blue Devils. She placed sixth in the all-around with 33.50 points. She also tied for sixth on the vault, just ahead of teammate Samantha Cloutier.
Londonderry was led by Cari O'Shea, who placed ninth in the all-around.
Chelsie Veilleux said, "I had absolutely no idea" what Jason Burland was up to.
Former Pinkerton coach Lindsay Moran was doing the announcing when the Astros were about to receive the team championship plaque.
Veilleux explained, "Lindsay said, 'Pinkerton's No. 1 fan please come forward for a special award.' I thought it was weird my family, my grandparents, my boss (at Beckett Family Services), my co-workers were there. ... He proposed and people in the stands were crying."
N.H. State Meet
Team scores (11 teams): 1. Pinkerton 142.175, 2. Salem 128.925, 3. Londonderry 127.55, 10. Pelham 105.35
Vault: 1.tie Courtney Thompson (Pink) and Paige Smith (Farmington), 9.35, 4.tie Amanda Cioli (Pink) 9.325, 6.tie Olivia Bogaczyk (Pink) 9.15; Bars: 1. Bogaczyk (Pink) 9.40, 4. Thompson (Pink) 8.50, 5. Cioli (Pink) 8.45, 6. Brittany Capozzi (Pink) 8.35; Beam: 1. Smith (Farm) 9.40, 2. Thompson (Pink) 9.274, 3. Capozzi (Pink) 9.10, 6. Bogaczyk (Pink) 8.70
Floor: 1. Smith (Farm) 9.50, 2. Thompson (Pink) 9.20, 3. Bogaczyk (Pink) 9.15, 6. Capozzi (Pink) 9.05; All-around: 1. Smith (Farm) 37.30, 2. Bogaczyk (Pink) 36.40, 3. Thompson (Pink) 36.325, 6. Kadianne Tommasi (Salem) 33.50, 9. Cari O'Shea (London) 32.45, 12. Amanda Forti (Windham) 32.075, 13. Sarah Hale (Salem) 31.925