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Tiger gymnasts make most of final chance

BRYCE EVANS
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado

FARMER’S KORNER – A beam routine in high school gymnastics lasts a little more than one minute. But that one routine can have an entire season riding on it.

As Summit junior Rachel Lawlis made her way back and forth across the narrow strip of wood Wednesday night, the situation was simple: Stick the routine, and she was going to state; fall – just once – and her season was done.

Lawlis steadied herself on an early wobble and hit a near-perfect routine, dismounting to a sturdy landing, a scoreof 8.4 and a trip to the state meet.

“It was really exciting in the first place that I even had one (state-qualifying) beam score. I usually don’t stick my beam routine,” she said. “I was really happy.”

And for the Tigers, Wednesday was a true last-chance effort to finish their regular season on a high note – and send a number of gymnasts to the state meet.

The oft-injured Summit squad had its meet canceled on Tuesday, and it looked as though the Tigers would be left in the cold without a final meet to earn state cuts. And with a number of girls needing just one more qualifying score, the team was more than disheartened.

“Last night, we were all really upset and we kind of felt left out with no options,” head coach Lauren Johnson said.

But, against all odds, both Johnson and athletic director Amy Raymond were able to pull together the meet Wednesday at the last minute, finding a judge and a team – Buena Vista – to make the trek to Summit for one last meet.

“I think it turned out for the better. It took our entire day to get this wrangled all together, but I think it worked out for the best,” Johnson said. “It was nice having their small team and our small team, and there weren’t a lot of spectators, so there wasn’t as much pressure.”

Still, just because the Tigers had their meet didn’t mean they were going to get the scores they needed. Lawlis, Jordan Smith and Aylin Tuna all came into the night a single score away from earning a trip to state in one event each.

Lawlis solidified her spot with the stellar beam routine, and Smith followed her on the same event with one of her best routines of the year. The senior, competing in the Summit gym for the last time, scored an 8.7, a full 0.7 over the score she needed.

“I didn’t even think about state,” she said. “The pressure came from my team members, because they all stuck it and got really good scores. So, I wanted to stick it too and do really well.”

Tuna, meanwhile, will be going to state on the vault.

So, the Tigers will have at least three girls in the state meet. And, depending how the team qualifications wind up, Summit could earn a few other spots. Any team that makes the state meet has its gymnasts automatically pulled from the individual rankings that determine the state rotations. Theoretically, the Tigers could have a handful of girls move up into the rotation once the team spots are decided.

Considering the amount of injuries and illnesses the Tigers dealt with this season, Johnson felt it was nice for her team to catch finally a break with Wednesday’s meet.

“It was a really pleasant change,” she said. “I hope this is building a little momentum for the next week and a half for state. If there’s a time to turn it around, now’s as good as any.”

The state meet is Nov. 6 at Thornton High School. The rotations for the meet will be announced on Monday.

Bryce Evans can be reached at (970) 668-4634 or at bevans@summitdaily.com.


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