Winning its final points for creativity and its tumbling routine on the last night of the 101st Red and Blue Games, the Red team pulled away to a 54-40 victory before a packed and boisterous crowd in the South Side High School gym.
The Red team, led by captains Jess Martino and Natalie Marinelli, won for just the third time since 2006, and denied the Blue team a third straight win in the girls-only competition, which began in 1917 — in an era when girls were not allowed to play high school sports.
“It’s such a good feeling. I love it!” said junior Liz Preldakaj moments after the victory. She said she has yet to be on the losing team in her three years of competing.
Others were relieved that their final Red and Blue was a successful one.
“It feels so good, and it was the best senior year I could ever have,” said Erin Dooney.
The Blue Team held a 9-6 lead entering the last day of competition on March 4, after winning the concentration and scooter relays and tying the floor hockey game the previous night, earning 3 points in each event. But the team fell short in the events with more points at stake.
The final night started with the teams performing their mini-plays. The Blue team came out first, with “Blue Ribbon Bakery,” a skit about two former nurses who built a successful bakery. It featured dancing nurses, Girl Scout Daisies, Navy SEALS and Princess Leias, who paid tribute to the late Carrie Fisher.
That was followed by “The REDmazing Race,” in which two professors traveled around the world, vying to be the new leader of the New York Science Society. They visited Germany, Spain, Africa and Japan and watched dancers perform in Bavarian dresses, cheetah outfits and kimonos.
The Red team tied the competition by winning the Superstar Relay obstacle course race, but Blue regained a 3-point lead when both of its 11-player lines completed the basketball relay. The teams split the next two events, with Red winning the tug of war and Blue scoring an easy 22-12 victory in the volleyball match to take a 15-12 overall advantage.
Both teams — each made up of about 180 girls — then gathered at the center of the gym to find out the rest of the results. The Red team swept all three Thursday events — creative song, poster and emblem, while the teams scored 10 points apiece in the different skit categories.
The judges awarded Red, led by coordinators Isabelle Grillo and Kathryn Rosshirt, the best tumbling performance, which earned a critical 5 points. While the teams tied in organization and sportsmanship, Red had better attendance, to cap the competition.
Deafening screams filled the gym when the Red team was declared the winner. The disappointment was obvious on many Blue team girls’ faces, and one competitor stormed off the court crying, but they regained their composure and gave their friends on the opposite side congratulatory hugs.
“I think their dances were really good and their costumes were excellent,” said sophomore Avary Trump, a Blue team member. “All of the dances are so fun to do, and it’s fun to watch.”
Despite the loss, Trump said she enjoyed taking part with her friends, and looked forward to two more years of competitions. “It was so much fun,” she said. “I love it so much.”