Five spring on to state

The gymnastics team scored the second-highest point total in school history and Emily Roche set a school record in the vault, but it wasn’t enough to send the Spartans to Friday’s state meet as a team.

Instead, five girls from what coach Cindy Guy called “my best team ever” will compete in one or more individual events.

The Spartans finished third in Saturday evening’s District 1-2 Gymnastics Championships at Sammamish High School with 174.075 points. The two available spots went to Issaquah, which won with 177.625 points, while Sehome took second with 176.825.

“I was really pleased with how they did,” Guy said. “They were really great for young kids under a lot of pressure.”

The Spartans were the losers in a numbers game, thanks to several factors outside their control:

* Because 50 4A schools compete in gymnastics but only 29 at the 3A level (according to figures supplied by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association), eight 4A teams but just four 4A teams compete at State. The other two 3A allotments come from the District 3-4-5-7 meet, which was held earlier in the day at Sammamish.

* With the Seamount League moving from District 2 – where it frequently played third fiddle to the Metro and Kingco Leagues – to the Spartans’ old District 3, that eight-team shift was enough to take one team spot with it (the same thing happened in basketball, where District 2’s previous six allotments were reduced to five).

* Perhaps the major reason was the reclassification of Sehome from 4A to 3A because of a slight decline in enrollment. The Bellingham-area school, which maintains a diaper-to-diploma gymnastics program, is arguably the state’s most consistent gymnastics power and this marked its first appearance in the 3A ranks.

The upshot was that even though Bainbridge outscored the other meet’s second-place team, the Spartans must be content with entering four girls in every individual event on Friday.

Brooke Nall, Dana Cuykendall and Roche will compete in all-around. Co-captain Stephanie Hylen – making her third trip to state – will enter the vault, beam and floor exercise, while freshman Brittany Belt will compete in bars.

“I’m disappointed,” said Hylen. “Team competition is more intense and competitive, while individual is more laid-back. It’s just a different feeling.

“But I think we did really well under the pressure.”

Though the less than three points that separated Bainbridge from Sehome seem an insignificant amount, Hylen likened it to a five-run difference in baseball.

The Spartans had the highest team total of the six competing teams in beam (43.95).

Cuykendall led the way with a 9.35, the second-highest mark in Spartan history. Only her 9.5 earlier in the season is better.

“I was really thrilled with our beam routine,” Guy said. “That really tells you how well they’re doing.”

They also had the second-highest score in vault (44.575) and were third in bars (40.550). Ironically, their highest total was in floor exercise (45.0) – and Guy thought they might have been slightly underscored by the judges – yet they were only fourth as 19 girls had scores of 9.0 or above.

Freshman Carrie Kirkpatrick, who suffered a season-ending knee injury just before the Metro League meet, said that not competing at District was “really intense. So I put my energy into trying to calm their nerves. But afterward, I felt bad that I couldn’t compete. I’m glad that we did well, but I wish I could have done something to help.”

Guy already is excited about next year, as everyone except Hylen will return.

“We need to add a few harder tricks to our routines,” she said, “to get ready for this kind of competition.”


All-around: 6, Nall 36.1, 10, Cuykendall 35.0, 11, Roche 34.925, 13, Hylen 34.55, 20, Belt 33.5.

Vault: Tie 5, Roche 9.275, 6, Nall 9.1, tie 9, Hylen 8.9, tie 15, Cuykendall 8.7, tie 17, Belt 8.6, 32, Lizzy Kidd 7.4.

Bars: Tie 10, Nall 8.5, tie 11 Belt 8.25, tie 12, Roche 8.2, tie 16, Cuykendall 7.85, tie 18, Hylen 7.75, 31, Alison Kramer 6.5.

Beam: 3, Cuykendall 9.35, 4, Nall 9.275, 9, Hylen 8.825, tie 13, Roche 8.6, tie 26, Belt 7.9, tie 32, Kramer 7.65.

Floor exercise: Tie 7, Nall 9.225, tie 9, Cuykendall 9.1, tie 10, Hylen 9.075, tie 14, Roche 8.85, 16, Belt 8.75, tie 31, Nicole Bemis 7.5.

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