Tiger gymnasts overcome beam woes to beat Columbine
GREEN MOUNTAIN – So much for the Summit High School gymnastics squad’s struggles on the balance beam.During a 162.05-150.125 victory over Columbine on Wednesday, the Tigers overcame the event head coach Beth Flaherty had called their “nemesis.” Summit stuck all six varsity routines on beam en route to a 40.55 team score in the event, nearly its best of the year despite what Flaherty described as the most “conservative” judges of the season.
Despite the Ophir Mountain Fire denying the team practice time Monday and Tuesday, “It’s important for all athletes to be active in their sport during their season, but for a gymnast not to have been on the beam for four days and then be expected to do a routine is a little different,” Flaherty said of the team’s four days off from Friday to Wednesday’s meet. With junior Hannah Bolt out with the flu and star junior Lauren Biegler nursing a hip flexor injury, several young Tigers had to step up. One athlete elevated from junior varsity to varsity on beam for the first time was sophomore Libby Helmer (7.85, sixth). Flaherty said Helmer remained one of the team’s most consistent performances with Wednesday’s routine.”I gave her the pep talk I always give her, and then they all got the same talk for beam,” Flaherty said with a laugh. “Once it worked for the first couple, I was like, ‘I’m not straying, I’m sticking with it.'”
Senior Shauna Neely was the last Tiger to compete on the apparatus, looking at Flaherty and quipping, “No pressure, huh Coach?” before winning the event with an 8.5 score.Bars and floor, two commonly strong routines for the Tigers, were weak Wednesday. Still, senior Amelia Meier and sophomore Nicole Luby took first and second on bars with respective scores of 8.125 and 8.05. The Tigers’ 40.55 on floor, typically their best event, would still represent a solid performance for many other teams.
The day of reversals continued as Summit performed well on the typically weak vault event, notching a season-best 41.5 points. Freshman Chelsea Rybak led Summit with a third-place 8.4 after showing flashes of brilliance with an 8.25 last week. Another freshman also had a memorable night in Flaherty’s eyes. On beam, Leah Canfield (8.25, second) nailed her new skill, a back handspring. Biegler, a state competitor last year, is the only other Tiger to perform that trick. Bolt and Biegler look to return to the team in limited action this Saturday at Summit’s home invitational, when the team will welcome five area squads for a 10 a.m. showdown at SHS.
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