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'J.Z.' hits the high notes

"J.Z." performed Thursday night at Williamsville South, and he rocked the house with a championship-caliber show.

Jon Zirna, who is better known in Western New York gymnastics circles by his nickname, captured his first Section VI boys all-around championship before an estimated 100.

The Clarence freshman, who has gotten used to fans and fellow competitors cheering him on as "J.Z." during his routines, eliminated the suspense in this championship meet by averaging nearly 9.02 points in his six events to compile a winning score of 54.1.

Zirna edged Williamsville South's Nathaniel Roberson by 2.2 points a year after finishing second to former Red Devils teammate Mike Morse by .35 of a point.

"I'm pretty excited," said Zirna, who also participates on the club circuit during the nonscholastic season with Stumpf's Gymnastics. "I really wanted it last year and Mikey beat me. It just feels great now that I am the sectional champion."

Joining Zirna and Roberson on the all-section team that will compete in the state championships Nov. 8 at Brockport State are Clarence's Eric Niedermeier (floor, vault, high bar), Adam Arena (floor, parallel bars, high bar), Dallin Wright (pommel horse), Adam Cole (horse, vault) and Joe Lysen (rings); Amherst's Bram Houston (rings, parallel bars) and Matt Rao (high bar); Williamsville North's BrandonO'Brien (vault); Williamsville East's Spencer Kieffer (horse); and Williamsville South's Noah Roberson (floor, rings, parallel bars).

Last year, Zirna didn't stick all of his dismounts cleanly in the sectional meet and those tiny deductions had a huge impact on the final outcome.

Thursday, he nailed five out of six landings, and the deduction for a slight stumble after his high-bar routine wasn't enough to cost him the individual title in that event.

"Couple of tenths [of a point] is all that matters in gymnastics," Clarence coach Mike Buscaglia said.

Zirna had a 9.0 in the high bar and also placed first in the rings (8.7) and parallel bars (8.5). He earned his best scores in the floor exercise (9.4), pommel horse (9.3) and vault (9.2).

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