The combined Harborfields-Huntington girls' gymnastics team.

Huntington Gymnasts Soar as Collaboration Succeeds

The combined Harborfields-Huntington girls' gymnastics team.

November 10 , 2022

Huntington High School’s collaboration with neighboring Harborfields to field a combined gymnastics team succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations as five Blue Devils joined forces with the Tornadoes to win the league title.

 Lizzy James won the floor exercise event at the Suffolk Coaches Invitational.
Lizzy James won the floor exercise event at the Suffolk Coaches Invitational.

Huntington’s new team was coached by health teacher Jackie Lazzarini and included a great group of young ladies. The Blue Devils traveled to Harborfields every afternoon for practices and meets in a small gym reserved just for gymnastics during the fall season.

Huntington was invited to participate in the joint venture by Harborfields Director of Athletics Rob Franco, who also graciously hosted the Blue Devil varsity and junior varsity girls’ basketball teams for most of last season after flood in Louis D. Giani Gymnasium required the entire floor to be replaced.

Thanks to Mr. Franco and Harborfields Superintendent Rory Manning, the two districts have developed a very close relationship, which includes joint boys and girls swimming and diving teams and the real possibility of future collaboration in other sports. Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky has been an enthusiastic supporter of the joint efforts

Lazzarini worked alongside Tornadoes coach Matthew Canty to develop a strong squad. Harborfields/Huntington defeated Babylon, Hauppauge, Lindenhurst, Walt Whitman, Copiague and Hampton Bays/Southampton in league meets to finish with a 6-0 league mark.

Huntington was led by seventh grader Grace Bartasi who advanced all the way to the Suffolk championships. “Grace is a young and powerful student-athlete who shows great strength and compassion for others,” Lazzarini said. “She was our top all-around gymnast.”

Sophomore Lizzy James captured first place in floor exercise at the county coaches invitational and finished third in balance beam. “Lizzy is a very dedicated, competitive and passionate leader and student-athlete,” Lazzarini said.

Junior Kaitlyn Sansiviero was another standout at the coaches invitational, placing second in vault and fourth in floor exercise. “Kaitlyn is a very passionate, hardworking, dedicated and driven student-athlete,” the coach said.

The season marked Huntington’s first girls’ gymnastics team since the 1980s. Lazzarini said it was “an amazing team and a great first year. Huntington and Harborfields mixed very well together.”

Huntington/Harborfields expects to jump from Suffolk League III to League II next fall. “I predict that all of our top girls will return and I am hoping to have more Huntington girls’ trying out,” Lazzarini said.

Huntington and Harborfields are currently exploring the possibility of combining for girls’ gymnastics on the middle school level. Harborfields has long offered the sport at Oldfield Middle School, but now that the two districts are collaborating on a varsity program, the sport might soon become available to girls at J. Taylor Finley Middle School. It would be offered during the spring season.