Summit score keeps rising, even in loss
FARMER’S KORNER – The meet is over, and the Summit High School gymnastics team has transformed itself into a long, giggling chain of green warm-ups and gym bags, with all 19 girls leaning back on each other’s stomachs.Though the visiting Evergreen Cougars bested Summit 169.875-164.175, an overarching sense of fun was present throughout the evening for the Tigers. “I think we’re finally getting over the first-meet jitters and settling down,” said junior Emma Koenig, who scored a state-qualifying 33.25 (fourth place) in the all-around in her strongest meet of the year. “We know what we have to do to come out and go high.”Junior Kelly Scholl also had her best competition of the young season, recording a state mark of 32.675 in the all-around, good for sixth.
Head coach Beth Flaherty acknowledged that the 164 is the team’s best score yet, and noted the Tigers’ increasing camaraderie as the freshman mesh with the returning athletes and the season falls into a rhythm. Still, the Tiger varsity again failed to overcome its struggles on beam. Koenig notched a state-worthy 8.2, good for fourth behind the stellar Evergreen trio of Karen McKenna, Marnie Flesche and Bethel Lindsley, who together propelled the Cougars to victory. Aside from Koenig’s score, however, half the Summit squad fell off the apparatus at least once. Senior Shauna Neely (sixth), Scholl (tied for seventh) and junior Hannah Bolt (tied for seventh) all broke the 8.0 barrier, but the 39.6 team score wasn’t what Flaherty was hoping for. “Beam is our nemesis, we struggle with it,” Flaherty said. “That beam experience, the competing of beam when the stands are packed with kids from school – there’s a little different jitters than when you’re at an away meet and nobody knows you.”
Koenig said that the team has worked more on beam than any other event, and that she’s happy to see the practice beginning to show up in the results for herself and some of her teammates, if not all.Still, Flaherty would prefer to see a richer payoff than the nickel-and-dime progress made so far.”I feel like we’re creeping,” she said. “I’d really like to see some leaps and bounds, but you can’t be disappointed with (a higher score). I thought things would come together a little quicker than they are.”One factor in the slow progress, Flaherty said, was the lack of practice time between last Saturday’s competition and Monday’s. This week will be different, as the Tigers have nine days between competitions.
“We can really use (this break) to focus on all those little things that make a big difference and to start incorporating some of the harder tricks that we’ve been working on in the gym,” she said. “There are a few kids that have a few tricks in their back pocket.”One of those is Bolt, who worked in several advanced maneuvers Monday on both beam and bars. Hampered by a blister on her palm, neither routine was flawless, but the degree of difficulty still secured the junior a state-worthy 8.0 on beam. Flaherty points to such risk-taking as a sure sign of progress.”The goal is to throw them,” she said. “At first your scores may go down, but you’ve got to do them at some time so you can improve them.”Mike Morris can be reached at (970)-668-3998, ext. 223 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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