Taste of success for BHS gymnasts

With last year’s 13-0 season culminating in a league title and their first-ever trip to state, the Spartan gymnastics team acquired a certain fondness for winning.

And despite losing three seniors -- Emily Roach, Alison Kramer and Kristin Hertz -- this year’s team is ready and raring to go -- all the way.

“We got a taste of success,” said head coach Cindy Guy, “ and we kind of want that back.”

The only thing that stopped them last year was powerhouse Issaquah, who topped the state meet team standings with 179.5 points. The Spartans were right on their heels with 172, and Guy is already looking forward to this January for a bit of a rematch.

“We know that Issaquah lost a few seniors this year, so did Sehome,” Guy said. “We’re going to see if we can match them again.”

The Spartans have a lone senior this season -- co-captain Dana Cuykendall -- but nine gymnasts returned to the team, providing a bit of depth that will go a long way in the stretch to February’s state meet.

Cuykendall will not be competing in floor exercises this year due to a back injury, but she’s already imprinting her knowledge onto the younger Spartans.

“We lost a lot of routines,” Guy said, “so she’s teaching her routine to our freshman.”

Likely to step into Cuykendall’s place on the floor will be Wendy Tawresey and freshman club gymnast Catherine Samstag.

Junior Brooke Nall, who placed fourth in the all-around last year at state, also returns to the gym for Bainbridge, and is hoping for a team trip to the Tacoma Dome.

“We’ve just got to make sure everyone’s getting their skills down, getting their routines and knowing what the requirements are,” Nall said, “and we’ll get to state again as a team.”

Nall will also be looking to break her own marks -- she currently holds BHS scoring records for all-around, bars and beam.

Brittany Belt will co-captain the team with Cuykendall, and the junior will compete all-around events with Carrie Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth Annis, Samstag, Nall, Emily Basile and Christine McCrudden.

Something a bit different for the girls in 2003 is the addition of junior Vince Palazzolo and freshman Andrew Mosely.

Coach Lorry Gilbreath can’t recall a time when there were boys out for the squad, but she admits it’s been somewhat a breath of fresh air.

“This is the first time this has happened in my nine years here,” Gilbreath said. “It’s been really fun having them, they’re willing to come out and do all of the things that (the girls) do.”

According to WIAA regulations though, the young men can only compete exhibitions on floor and vault, and points will not contribute to Bainbridge’s overall score. Then can, however, win junior varsity ribbons, and BHS has three JV meets lined up for this season.

After last year’s rigorous varsity schedule left the Spartans injured and exhausted, Guy flexed a bit on this season’s calendar.

“We were so tired,” she said. “We had too many back-to-back meets last year.”

But Guy made certain to fit in the Issaquah Invite mid-January to give her team a healthy challenge, and a look at an opposing team they’d more than likely be seeing in future post-season meets.

And as last season’s academic state champions -- with a cumulative grade point average of 3.895 -- Guy also wants her team to keep hitting the books.

“We’d like to keep that trophy,” she said.

Additional team goals are simple, and very similar to their wish list last year.

“We’d like to end up first in Metro, top two at regionals and districts, and we definitely want to give Issaquah a run (at state),” Guy said.

“We’re excited, like we always are.”

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