BURLINGTON — Powered by individual event wins in the high bar and rings, Burlington junior Devin Hazen captured the MIAA boys’ gymnastics individual all-around state championship Friday night with a 47.2 finish.
It was a first for the state — an individual championship without a team title because only four schools are competing in boys’ gymnastics, which was approved by the MIAA in December.
Hazen, who earned an 8.0 on the rings and a 7.5 on the high bar, beat out Lowell freshman Lorenzo Leary (46.5), the only competing member for Lowell. Burlington senior Christian Katende finished third (42.6).
“I didn’t win it last year, which had me pretty bummed, but right now, I’m feeling super excited,” Hazen said.
Only Burlington, the Newton North/Newton South co-op, Braintree, and Lowell competed this season, limited to four meets against other. There were 25 athletes Friday.
Throughout that process, the student-athletes have found a real sense of community within each other as they keep high school boys’ gymnastics alive in Massachusetts.
“It’s like an extra family — a huge family,” Hazen said. “But we really want to expand it so that the sport can keep going on, and I want to get that message out to the superiors at the school so they can keep it going.”
Leary claimed the individual vault title ( 9.5), and Burlington sophomore Nathan Bunten dazzled with a perfect 10 to win the floor exercise as well as a 9.4 to take the parallel bars. Burlington senior Noyal Benny won the pommel horse (7.6). But no matter who was performing on any given event, there was applause and appreciation from the opposing athletes.
“It’s a beautiful thing when other teams are happy that you’re involved in a sport as special as this,” Burlington coach Jourden Marino said. “Which is why there’s no animosity among the teams. Everyone wants to win, make no mistake. But we know how much it costs to win, and when someone else does it, we appreciate it.”
But despite the small number of programs, there’s hope: at Burlington, Marino said they had more athletes on the team this year than they did a year ago.
“Because there’s not many teams left, having all the teams compete at every meet makes us a family,” Marino said. “We appreciate each other. We’re cheering for them. We want them to be part of this. No one wants this to go away.”