With a small but solid nucleus remaining from last year’s team, and some new additions from the junior varsity squad, the Spartans have started the gymnastics season with a bit of a chip on their shoulders.
“We have some more things we want to prove,” said Spartan Coach Cindy Guy.
At the top of the list: Bainbridge wants to be perfect this season, to underscore again the Spartans’ dominance in the sport. BHS has only one regular-season loss since 2001, and hasn’t lost at home since 2000.
The Spartans’ current crew has vowed to continue the streak, and not be the team that breaks the string of success.
“This is very important, to not be the team,” Guy said.
That standard, she added, was the girls’ idea.
“They put it on themselves. That, to them, is very important.
“And it should be. It’s a great legacy.”
Guy knows a thing or two about legacies. She has been the coach of the Spartan program for 33 years, and said matching last year’s success boils down to a few crucial components.
Last season, the Spartans won the district crown and placed third at state.
“We snuck up on a lot of people,” Guy said.
Much credit goes to Sarah Rice, a freshman on the team who was ninth in all-around scores at the state championships.
On the last day of competition at the Tacoma Dome, Rice finished fifth in the vault with a score of 9.425, came in eighth on the bars at 8.775, and was 12th on the beam with 8.850.
As a sophomore, there will be a greater emphasis on Rice’s skills development and bumping up the degree of difficulty in her events.
Rice is currently coming off a wrist injury, but the coach said she’s showing improvement in her routines.
Other top returners include team captain Marielle Summers, a senior and also a veteran of the state competition.
“When you’re a senior, you really understand competition,” Guy said.
Miller Shor, who also competed at the Tacoma Dome as a freshman, is another top returner.
Guy also said she expects a strong season from Heidi Franz, another senior on the squad, and the coach noted the performance of Dominque D’Onofrio, a junior, at last week’s matchup against Bellingham and Mercer Island.
Seven athletes on the team’s roster of 23 are in the sophomore or freshman ranks.
“We have had to put kids that were JV last year on varsity this year,” Guy said.
The team has young competitors on bars and beam, and also some new faces in the vault. Even so, the team has six seniors and 10 juniors on the roster.
“We’ve got quite a bit of depth,” the coach said.
Guy said it was difficult to say at this early point in the season where the Spartans will find their greatest challenge.
In the Metro League, Bainbridge has only competed so far against Holy Names.
Next up for the Spartans is Nathan Hale late this week.
“We’ll see Nathan Hale and then figure out where to go from there,” she said.
What’s most critical for Spartan success this season? Guy said it was no surprise.
“It’s sounds really trivial. Sticking your landings on every event is crucial.”
Outside of vault, the Spartans will also need to hit their special requirements in other events such as beam and floor.
“We’re very good on vault and floor. And when we stick on the beam and hit our special requirements, we’ll be successful,” Guy said.
It takes a special kind of athlete to compete in gymnastics, she added.
“You not only have to have grace and beauty but strength, flexibility and endurance. And you’ve got to be a little crazy because you have to do flips in the air.”
“It’s a hard sport, but very rewarding to coach,” she said.
Loyalty to the Bainbridge program runs strong. Some of the Spartans’ past veterans showed up at the last meet, home from college, to share hugs and encouragement to their former teammates before the start of the events.
Others, long gone from competition, are equally supportive, Guy said.
“Whether they were in the program in the ’80s or ’90s, they all still come to the meets,” she said.
Those who came out last Friday found plenty to cheer about.
The Spartans continued their winning streak at home with a strong performance Dec. 14 against Bellingham and Mercer Island.
Bainbridge finished first with a team score of 151.50. Bellingham was second with 136.15, while Mercer Island scored 110.25.
The Spartans won with first-place performances by Rice on vault, bars, beam and floor exercise.
Rice finished with the top all-around score of 34.65.
The Spartans had the top four all-around scores.
Miller Shor was second for Bainbridge (31.65); Marielle Shor was third (30.90); and Heidi Franz finished fourth (26.00).
Guy, the Spartans’ head gymnastics coach, said the Bainbridge girls were able to overcome an emotional day where many of the players were saddened by the Newtown shooting tragedy.
“They were really upset, but they were able to focus,” Guy said. “We tried not to talk about it.”
The coach said the team put on “The Lion King” theme music during warm-ups, which helped improve the mood of the Spartans.
The team set goals for each of the events, and came close to finishing how they’d hoped.
“We felt like we had a good meet,” she said. “I was pretty pleased with them.”
In earlier action Dec. 7, the Spartans came out on top in a four-team meet against Holy Names Academy, Shorecrest and Shorewood.
Bainbridge finished with 151.0 points; Holy Names was second with 129.8; Shorecrest claimed third place with 125.5; and Shorewood finished with 119.95.
Rice earned first place in the vault, beam and floor exercise and was the all-around leader with 33.5 points.
Summers of BHS placed second in the vault, beam and floor exercise, and placed third on the bars to score 33.0 and place second among the all-arounders.
Fellow Spartan Miller Shor was third in all-around scores with 32.55.
Shor earned first on the bars and tied for second place in the vault. She was also finished third on the beam and in floor exercise.
Bainbridge vs. Bellingham, Mercer Island Results
First: Sarah Rice, 8.85, Bainbridge
Second: Marielle Summers, 8.15, Bainbridge
Third: Tie Miller Shor, 8.10, Bainbridge
Third: Tie Zoe Burnnell, 8.10, Bellingham
Sixth: Heidi Franz, 7.8, Bainbridge
First: Sarah Rice, 34.65, Bainbridge
Second: Miller Shor, 31.65, Bainbridge
Third: Marielle Shor, 30.90, Bainbridge
Fourth: Heidi Franz, 26.00, Bainbridge
First: Sarah Rice, 7.95, Bainbridge
Second: Marielle Summers, 6.75, Bainbridge
Third: Miller Shor, 6.5, Bainbridge
Fourth: Heidi Franz, 5.6, Bainbridge
First: Sarah Rice, 8.85, Bainbridge
Second: Miller Shor, 8.35, Bainbridge
Fourth: Marielle Summers, 7.5, Bainbridge
Fifth: Dominque D’Onofrio, 7.3, Bainbridge
First: Sarah Rice, 9.0, Bainbridge
Second: Miller Shor, 8.7, Bainbridge
Third: Mariellle Summers, 8.5, Bainbridge
Sixth: Dominque D’Onofrio, 7.1, Bainbridge
Bainbridge vs. Holy Names, Shorecrest, Shorewood results
First: Sarah Rice, 8.35, Bainbridge
Second: Marielle Summers, 8.3, Bainbridge
Second: Miller Shor, 8.3, Bainbridge
Fifth: Heidi Franz, 8.1, Bainbridge
First: Sarah Rice, 33.5, Bainbridge
Second: Marielle Summers, 33.0, Bainbridge
Third: Miller Shor, 32.55, Bainbridge
First: Miller Shor, 7.25, Bainbridge
Second: Sarah Rice, 7.15, Bainbridge
Third: Marielle Summers, 6.9, Bainbridge
First: Sarah Rice, 9.0, Bainbridge
Second: Marielle Summers, 8.9, Bainbridge
Third: Miller Shor, 8.2, Bainbridge
First: Sarah Rice, 9.09, Bainbridge
Second: Mariellle Summers, 8.9, Bainbridge
Third: Miller Shor, 8.8, Bainbridge