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State gymnastics preview: Mead, Mt. Spokane compete in team competitions

Plenty of talent from the Greater Spokane League will be on display at the state gymnastics tournaments this weekend at Sammamish High School.

Mead was the undefeated Greater Spokane League champion this season and is a young squad, with no seniors on the roster.

The Panthers won the 4A regional meet on Feb. 11 and will vie for a team title on Friday and Saturday.

Mead is led by sophomore Annalise Thackston and frosh Averey Seidel.

Thackston placed third in all-around at regionals and took third on the uneven bars. Seidel was fourth all-around and second on the balance beam.

It was a year of transition for the Panthers, as former Mead gymnast Hannah Bjerkestrand took over as head coach after serving three year of apprenticeship under veteran coach Laurie Chadwick, who stepped aside after 34 years.

Chadwick stayed on as an assistant this season.

“(Chadwick) has been very helpful with my transition taking over,” Bjerkestrand said. “Asking questions and just being there as a mentor and a friend – and just knowing the chaos of it all.”

Qualifying for the 4A all-around competition was Maile Rocha of Ferris and Rebekah Ross of Central Valley, which was edged out by Mead by fewer than five points for the team title.

Rocha took first at regionals on bars and beam, and was second in the floor exercise. Ross placed second on bars and third on beam.

Individual qualifiers:

CV: Victoria Axtell, beam, vault, floor; Mikah Baggot, bars, floor; and Hanna Michaelis, bars, floor. Lewis and Clark: Isabel Ferney, bars, vault; Lyra Mylroie, beam, vault, floor; and Jamie Fitgerald, beam. University: Ashley Sessions, bars; and Maya Meeks, bars, vault.

3A/2A/1A

Mt. Spokane (8-1, GSL) fell to Kamiakin by fewer than two points in the regional team meet, but both qualified to compete at the 3A/2A/1A championships on Thursday and Friday.

The Wildcats are led by junior Gina Twenge, who placed third in the all-around at regionals to qualify for state. She won bars and beam and placed second on the floor.

Twenge, who finished second last year in the all-around at state, was a club-first gymnast her whole life until joining the high school team last year.

“I figured high school gymnastics would be more relaxing and laid-back and just not a stressful,” she said. “So I just made the decision … and I’m glad I did. It has been a great experience.”

“Honestly, the most impressive part about Gina and her gymnastics is her ability to stand up for what she wants out of the sport,” Mt. Spokane coach Dana Trantum said.

Junior Sami Zandt placed second on the beam at regionals and was third in all-around at the 3A/2A qualifying meet on Jan. 31.

Individual qualifiers:

North Central: Katheryn Laurence, floor, beam, vault. Shadle Park: Danielle Santero, beam, floor. Rogers: Taryn Dacosta, floor. Cheney: Lauren O’Callaghan, vault, bars.