Spartans primed for another perfect season

Gymnast Adrienne Palay plans to bring her tumbling skills. - Brad Camp
Gymnast Adrienne Palay plans to bring her tumbling skills.
— image credit: Brad Camp

With a perfect regular-season record dating back to 2002, the Bainbridge gymnastics team is ready to continue its Metro League win streak.

“I feel like we do have more depth than our competitors in season,” captain Katie Mathews said. “I don’t want to be the senior, the team, or the captain that breaks that legacy and you have to start all the way over.”

The Spartans, who have won their last 112 regular season meets, host Shorewood, Shorecrest, Nathan Hale and Ingraham Dec. 11 in their first meet of the season. Bainbridge has also won eight of the last nine Metro League titles and thrives on the pressure, coach Cindy Guy said.

“It’s the kids’ expectation,” Guy said. “The power of being undefeated, it’s amazing and it’s stressful. I like it because it keeps us focusing on all of our meets. It doesn’t make any meet look like a wash. I think the pressure is what keeps us mentally ready to go.”

Bainbridge is also using its third-place finish at last season’s state meet as a learning tool.

“State was not good,” Mathews said. “I think this year we know how prepared we have to be and how consistent we have to be a lot more than last year. Every meet was kind of like luck if we would stick our beam routine or make a floor pass.”

At state, the Spartans finished eight-tenths of a point behind state champion Columbia River and one-eighth of a point behind second-place Auburn-Mountainview.

“We’ve learned a lot from the competition,” Guy said. “We’re working every day to stick every thing we do, because we fell (at state). We want to make sure we have hard enough vaults.”

The Spartans, who only graduated two seniors, return a strong group of seniors.

“Katie’s a total gymnast,” Guy said. “She has everything. She has grace, the dance, and the power. Katie has really big tricks. She’s going to score really well.”

In addition to Mathews, the Spartans have three senior co-captains: Laura Brickin, Eva Fazzini and Talia Weiss.

“The thing I like about the Bainbridge kids is the seniors and the juniors will take the younger kids and be big sisters to them, and absorb them into the system,” Guy said. “Our seniors have kind of trained the juniors so next year they’ll be ready to take over.”

For Mathews, that means running conditioning drills and mentoring younger gymnasts.

“We have eight eyes watching all the time,” Mathews said. “I have to crack the whip once in a while for talking and getting routines together, but in terms of leading and everything, everyone has an equal share.”

Weiss, a three-year letter winner, placed 30th in the vault and tied for 50th in the floor routine at the state meet last year.

“She’s really reliable,” Guy said. “I always know when she goes up there, she stays calm.”

Fazzini and Brickin both suffered illnesses and injuries that affected their gymnastics, Guy said.

“(Brickin’s) mostly a bar specialist,” Guy said. “She tore her ACL at the end of her sophomore year so she did pretty much JV bars for us last year. She’s retuning but we don’t know how far we can get with her.”

Fazzini was also hampered by mononucleosis last year, but has worked hard to get back into the sport, Guy said.

“She’s really solid,” Guy said. “She’s tall, which is very unusual for most gymnasts. So on the beam she looks exquisite. She’s got nice tricks.”

Junior Palay, who placed 26th all-around at the state meet, also adds depth to the Spartans.

“Adrienne Palay is a great dancer, great tumbler, all-around powerful gymnast,” Guy said. “Adrienne, to me, is fearless. She can hit everything.”

In addition to working on their consistency, the Spartans must increase the difficulty of their routines.

“We have a new code of points this year — they change them every four years after the Olympics,” Guy said. “So right now we’re focusing on taking our old routines and fixing them to meet the new code of points.”

The Spartans have a judged, inter-squad meet on Dec. 4 to make sure their routines are up to par.

When competition heats up at the Metro and district meets, Guy can count on her seniors to step up.

“When you have a strong enough leadership, you can be relaxed,” Guy said. “But when you need to focus, they’ll focus. That’s how the team is going to be.”

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