Summit gymnastics season ends amid uncertainty
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
The beginning of the season seemed like a distant memory as the Summit High gymnastics team wrapped up its season at the state meet Nov. 6. All those goals, those high-hopes that came from a team returning every single athlete from a squad that finished sixth in the state the year before, were all but gone.
Throughout the fall, injuries and illnesses plagued the talented Tiger group, which rarely competed a full roster and never had all its top gymnasts on the mats on the same night.
The Tigers were one spot short on bars from being able to put up a team score at state, which ended their streak, dating back to 2001, of qualifying for the championship meet as a team.
But, despite a strong showing at the final, the Tigers ended the season with just as much uncertainty as they had to deal with throughout the fall.
Four seniors will graduate from this year’s team and junior exchange-student Aylin Tuna will head back to Germany at the end of the year, leaving Summit with five rostered gymnastics heading into 2011. And, head coach Lauren Johnson explained, there’s a chance the Tiger program may be disbanded if it can’t draw at least 10 athletes.
“It’ll be interesting to see what happens,” said Johnson, a former SHS gymnast who was part of the team that started the state-meet streak in 2001. “We need 10 girls, and if we don’t have it, I’ve been told there’s the potential (the program will) be cut.”
Johnson is optimistic it won’t have to come to that. Besides the five returners (two seniors, one junior and two sophomores), Johnson said there’s a strong group of gymnasts that will be incoming freshmen and possibly a few other girls who may decide to come out for the team.
Either way, Johnson said she isn’t worrying about things she can’t control.
That seemed to be the team’s motto throughout this past season.
As the team struggled to get a full lineup together on a nightly basis, some of the team’s top gymnasts weren’t able to get their state-qualifying scores until late in the season. The majority of the Tigers’ six state qualifiers got their invites only when the final season standings were released.
Summit wound up with six girls on vault, five on both floor and beam and four on bars. Five girls must compete in each event in order to be eligible for a team score, thus the Tigers needed just one more bar participant to extend their streak.
“(The streak) was a lot less important to me at the end of the year than I thought it would’ve been,” Johnson said.
The team’s solid performance at state may have had something to do with that.
Freshman Tessa Gunnin, who qualified in all around during the regular season, made the event finals on beam and finished 11th, capping a remarkable rookie season.
Senior Jordan Smith also made an event finals and competed in all four events in AA. She was eighth on vault and hit her highest score of the season, an 8.5, on floor.
Tuna competed in all four events, and despite qualifying in AA, senior Gabi Ketzenbarger was only able to compete bars due to an injury.
Freshman Hannah Hart competed on vault, Abby Akers took part in three events, and Emily Johnson did both the vault and floor.
Johnson felt it was a fitting end for her team.
“I’m just very proud of them,” she said. ” … A lot of girls were in pain every time they competed this year. I couldn’t have asked for more with how many girls just saddled up and pushed through everything.”
Now she hopes that type of resiliency can keep her program going.
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