Sarah Rice faced her toughest competition this year at the state 3A gymnastics meet.
Ask her, though, and she’ll say it was different than what her coach saw.
“I was super nervous,” Rice said, noting that she put pressure on herself to best last year’s ninth place in all-around scores at the state championships.
Her competition is herself, she said.
“I wanted to do really good or even better than last year, so I put a lot of expectations on myself and I was really nervous,” Rice said.
Even so, Rice finished a meet that many say was marked by a high level of skill not seen in many years. Spartan Coach Cindy Guy, for one.
“It was really the hardest gymnastics meet I’d seen in a long time, probably since ‘05 when we won state,” said Guy, who has coached the Spartans for 33 years.
“There were a lot of excellent gymnasts there,” she said.
This year, the Spartans didn’t take a team to the state meet.
Instead, the BHS gymnastics team took fourth place at the District 1 and 2 3A/2A Gymnastic Championships, and advanced three Spartans to state: Rice (all-around), Miller Shor (all-around) and Marielle Summers (vault, bars, floor exercise).
The struggles for the Spartans started early.
Shor had a stress fracture and couldn’t do her full floor routine, Guy said.
“But she did very well; she had a 7.7,” Guy said.
Summer notched a 9.0, and Rice had a 9.3.
Shor’s injury also prevented her from practicing for the vault.
Summers attempted a tsukahara vault — a half turn off the springboard onto the vault table, followed by a backwards push backwards into a back salto — but fell.
Still, she finished with an 8.35 score.
“So that was good, we were happy,” Guy said.
Rice tried the same vault, but from the pike position, with great results.
“She got a 9.35 and qualified for finals,” Guy said.
Good scores didn’t follow on the bars, however.
Shor also attempted a harder routine than her regular-season norm.
“We figured, we’re just going to go for it, because we’re at the state meet,” Guy said.
Shor finished with a 6.15.
Rice pulled in an 8.4 — her highest of the season and a score that advanced her to Saturday’s competition.
On beam, Shor found misfortune again, and fell. She finished with a 7.85.
At the end of Friday’s competition, Rice was in eighth place, with an all-around average of 35.88, her highest score of the season.
Guy said Saturday was a free-for-all. Rice was first out of 16 girls to compete on vault, and tied for seventh with a 9.4.
She ended up competing last on bars, though, but still pulled in an 8.8, a personal best and a tie for seventh place.
But when it came to beam, what worked in practice didn’t pan out during actual competition.
“On beam, she has a standing back flip that she decided to throw in finals and she didn’t make it,” Guy said.
“Only a few Bainbridge kids have thrown it,” Guy added of the Level C skill.
“But we were really proud of her because she went for it, and it was her first time in competition,” she said.
Despite the tough competition, inside and out, Rice left Tacoma with a few top-10 finishes.
She tied for seventh place on bars, with a score of 8.8.
She also tied for seventh in the vault, with a 9.4.
Rice finished 17th on beams with an 8.8, and on floor, she tied for 31st with a 9.3.
In the final tally, Rice placed seventh on vault with a 9.4 and seventh on bars with an 8.8 and brought home two medals.
Another bright spot for Bainbridge: Assistant Spartan Coach Bryan Garoutte was awarded assistant coach of the year.
His fellow coaches, and team, were thrilled.
“We were so happy,” Rice said. “We totally think he deserves it.”