Gymnastics: Beamer, Jefferson both primed for a state title run

Thomas Jefferson senior Madi Kellar returns as one of the best all-around gymnasts in the state. She placed fifth in the state last year and helped the Raiders finish third as a team.  - Casey Olson/The Mirror
Thomas Jefferson senior Madi Kellar returns as one of the best all-around gymnasts in the state. She placed fifth in the state last year and helped the Raiders finish third as a team.
— image credit: Casey Olson/The Mirror

Gymnastics in the Federal Way school district had a banner year during the 2010-11 season. The Todd Beamer Titans finished second at the Class 4A State Championships and the Thomas Jefferson Raiders were right behind in third place.

Things might be even better this year at Beamer and TJ. The two teams return a bulk of the talent from a season ago, including their best all-around gymnasts. Back for the Titans will be senior Sam West, along with sophomore Kasey Johnson and the Raiders bring back senior Madi Kellar and juniors Shelby and Monica Church.

West finished up in third place in the all-around competition with 36.7 points as a junior. The result came a year after she garnered second place during the 2010 all-around as a sophomore.

Kellar finished a disappointing fifth in last year’s all-around competition inside the Tacoma Dome after entering the state championships as the favorite. Kellar finished in first place at both the South Puget Sound League and district meets and had the highest preliminary score entering the state meet. But, just like her sophomore season, Kellar fell off the balance beam, one of her best events. She also finished fifth in the all-around as a sophomore after falling off the beam.

The Church twin sisters, Shelby and Monica, finished 11th and 14th, respectively, in the all-around competition as sophomores. Shelby Church did grab a silver medal on the balance beam with a 9.375 during individual event finals. Monica Church finished fifth on the vault.

“We have a great mix on this team,” said longtime TJ head coach Deb Hunter. “They work well with each other to encourage the best from each other. We are busy learning skills, getting in shape and getting routines together for the first meet.”

Hunter is entering her 36th season at the helm of the Raider program and will be inducted into the Federal Way Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame on Jan. 25 at the All-City Gymnastics Meet. She is the longest serving, single sport head coach in district history.

“We are working hard to make any weakness into a strength,” Hunter said. “Our challenge is to not be just satisfied with what we have done, but to keep getting better and to create a legacy for this team.”

The Decatur Gators and Federal Way Eagles will also bring back some talent from a season ago.

Six Decatur gymnasts competed in the 2A/3A State Gymnastics Meet last year and Anna Paradee led the way for the Gators by scoring 33.900 points in the all-around competition. The point total was good enough to place her 20th. Also advancing to state were Shantel Bali, Allison Sherwin, Karissa Kolman, Victoria Braun and Makayla Quam.

The South Puget Sound League gymnastics season opens up today (Nov. 30) for all four Federal Way schools. Jefferson will travel to Federal Way to open the year, while Beamer travels to Mount Rainier and Decatur opens up at Auburn Riverside.


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