There’s excitement among Greater Spokane League gymnastics coaches this year.
Two state second-place all-around performers, Cadie Pratt from Mead and Alana Norman from Shadle Park, are back.
Mead’s Panthers have beefed up for another State 4A team-qualifying return and perhaps a higher finish by bucking the traditionally stronger West Side.
And based upon early returns, Shadle Park or University hope to contend for a 3A team berth against defending State 3A team champion Kamiakin.
“I looked online and it looks like Kamiakin only scored 141 points (in a league meet this season),” U-Hi Titans coach Tracy Duncan said, adding that she didn’t know if the Braves had their entire lineup during the meet. “Let’s hope that (score) is legitimate.”
Mead coach Laurie Chadwick has had success wherever she’s coached.
The Panthers graduated two athletes, but an already deep team expects to be better than last year’s state fourth-place finisher.
“Basically the core of my team is back,” Chadwick said. “We have two new competitors who are making an impact. That makes the team stronger as a whole.”
Pratt scored 36.825 in four events at state, taking third on uneven bars and fifth on balance beam, to place second all-around. She had two fourth-place finishes in the individual event competition.
Also back are six other veterans. Newcomers Victoria Moyer, who won two individual events and was second all-around in her first GSL meet, and Hannah Bjerkestrand are having an impact.
“I think Mead looks absolutely fabulous,” Duncan said. “I judged them last week and they had a 172.625 before they have cleaned up everything. They are not just skilled, but are great kids. I’m excited for her and hope she can win state.”
Lewis and Clark’s Lily Hoch was 15th all-around at state and returns to the Tigers.
Longtime GSL power University will face a challenge this year.
“This is going to be a rebuilding year,” said Duncan, who graduated four seniors. “We’re asking the remaining girls to compete in new events at the varsity level.”
In the Titans’ way is Shadle Park.
“This year we have a very large team, and a few strong people who will carry this team,” Shadle coach Stoyan Katzarski said.
Besides Norman, who won the individual vault and placed in two other events at state, Katzarski has one other senior – Emily Andrews – plus junior state veteran Hailey Barry, third in floor exercise.
Katzarski was a member of the Bulgarian national team, taught in private clubs after coming here and has been Shadle’s coach since 1999.
In their league opener, the Highlanders scored more than 160 points to U-Hi’s 152.
“We want the girls to be in the best shape by the very last meet,” Katzarski said. “Our goal is to get to state.”
U-Hi’s rebuilding effort will center around returnees Tarah Chess, Mirah Knowles, Taylor Rydeen, Katelyn Nemitz, Jessica Vent-Gmeiner and sophomore Amy House.
One of the best overall gymnasts in the GSL is Mt. Spokane top-six state placer Courtney Bray. In her first meet last week, Bray scored 36.375 to win over four Mead Panthers.
Lakeside has dropped its gymnastics program, denying Anandae Egland and Davina Carr a chance to return to state. Carr tied Norman for second all-around at 37.025 while winning the bars, and had a pair of sixth-place finishes during individual competition. Egland finished tied for sixth during team events and fifth individually on vault.