FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield Ludlowe High School gymnast Perry Kindel had a rough start to her season and the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference championships. But that didn’t stop her from becoming a champion.
Kindel, a sophomore, won three of four events and the all-around title at last month’s league championship meet. She was selected The Fairfield Daily Voice Athlete of the Month for her accomplishment.
She had an injury at the start of the season and slowly rounded into form. But at the league championships, she fell on her first event, the uneven bars, and finished fifth.
“I knew my routine wasn’t going to be good,’’ Kindel said. “I fell during warm-ups, and I fell during the routine. I didn’t even know if I would make it through the rest of the events."
But she rebounded in a big way. Her night started to reverse on the next event, the balance beam, where she took first with a 9.3. “I felt good after the beam,’’ she said. “It was a shock to stay on the beam. There were times where I thought I was going to fall.”
The key to getting back on track was focusing on the event at hand and not on her score, Kindel said.
“After I fell, I put the bars aside and didn’t think about it,’’ she said. “I wasn’t thinking about winning. I was thinking about getting through my routines.”
She ended up with an all-around score of 35.2. Christina Brandt of Wilton finished second with 34.15, followed by Tara Oliver of Trumbull with 34.1. Kindel’s victory helped the Falcons take second in the team scoring behind Wilton.
“It was definitely a surprise,’’ Kindel said of winning the all-around title. “I kind of knew where I stood, but then again I was a little bit skeptical.”
The race for the all-around title was wide open this year after the graduation of Wilton’s Chelsea Levander, one of the top gymnasts in the history of the league. Kindel came into the season as one of the contenders. Her early-season injury, along with a stress fracture diagnosed right before the league championships, left her doubting herself.
“I started getting better midway through the season and thought maybe I’d have a good chance,’’ she said. “Then I had the stress fracture and that made me think otherwise. It was definitely something that I wanted.”
Kindel also competes for the Darien YMCA travel program. She started when she was 3 years old when her family lived in Westport, and continued when they moved to Virginia. The family returned to Fairfield, and Kindel has stayed with it.
“Winning a USA Gymnastics meet is great because it’s good competition and everyone is at your level,’’ Kindel said. “But winning the FCIACs is one of the best accomplishments in my career. Everyone knows about the FCIAC. Everyone wants to win it.”