Sports

Tumblers look strong to repeat at State

Freshman Kathleen Callahan on the beam. - JESSE BEALS/Staff Photo
Freshman Kathleen Callahan on the beam.
— image credit: JESSE BEALS/Staff Photo

The squad looks to extend its streak of four Metro titles.

If the Bainbridge gymnastics team can handle changing their floor routines at the last minute like they did against Sehome last Thursday, they’re in good shape to repeat as state champs for the 2005-06 prep season.

Last year, the Spartans went undefeated for the fourth straight year, won their fourth straight Metro League championship, the district championship and their first state title, holding off rival Issaquah by 4.5 points.

“It was just a great year last year,” head coach Cindy Guy said. “We had a lot of team chemistry and really great gymnasts and team leaders.”

But 12 of those gymnasts have moved on, including state qualifiers Brittany Belt, Carrie Kirkpatrick and two-time all-around state champion Brooke Nall.

Guy won’t fret too much over their departure as six returned from last year’s team, including state qualifiers in sophomore Marie Welsh, who placed third last year, sophomore Sophie Wenzlau, seniors Elizabeth Annis and Emily Basile and junior Katherine Samstag.

“I think we have a good chance of sticking in there with the good teams,” Basile, a co-captain, said. “We’ve got a really young team, but there’s a lot of talent.”

That young talent includes sophomore Lauren Fleming, who was first in the vault with a score of 8.2 and tied for third in the floor with a score of 8.5 in last Thursday’s meet.

Guy also likes freshmen Kathleen Callahan, Annie Zuckerman and Ashley Cross, but feels all of the new tumblers on her team can contribute to the cause.

“They have a lot of beginning talent, so they’re going to help us out,” she said of her 12 newcomers. “We have a lot of potential, but we have a lot of work to do.”

That includes the vault, which was pushed to the side as the team focused on building routines for the other events this season and the bars. Guy wants some of her gymnasts to develop optional routines like Welsh, who placed first against Sehome with a score of 8.9 instead of depending on intermediate routines.

Where Bainbridge will get their points until the other two events shape up is on the beam and the floor, as exemplified by Welsh, who scored a 9.35 on the beam and a 9.2 on the floor against Sehome.

“We’re normally a high-scoring bar routine group,” Guy said. “That’s where we won State last year.”

She also felt the success of the team was due to team unity, which has always been a part of Spartan gymnastics.

“Everybody in the state has talented gymnasts,” she said, noting that they are the only recipients of the sportsmanship award, which has been handed out just twice in the past 30-plus years, both times to Bainbridge. “But to be a team and work together and help each other, I think that’s what’s going to help us be successful.”

If they are to return to State this year, they’ll need strong years from Welsh, Wenzlau – who won the all-around competition with a score of 31.95 last Thursday – Annis and Basile and get their newcomers to perform.

They’ll also need to avoid injuries, as Wenzlau, Welsh and Callahan are suffering from different maladies, and any letdown from reaching the top.

“They (the new kids) all know we lost a bunch of seniors from last year,” Annis, a co-captain, said. “So we’re just trying to tell them to stay calm, have fun and do your best.”

And Guy has confidence her team will be the best as they continue not only their winning streak – they’re 75-0 after their 160.55-141.25 victory over Sehome last Thursday – but extend their streak of winning the Metro and possibly repeat with wins at the district meet and then State.

“That’s what’s so fun about teaching and coaching,” she said. “There’s always another challenge.”

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