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STATE GYMNASTICS/SWIMMING PREVIEW: Several gymnasts in line for titles
On paper, the Class 4A State Gymnastics Championships will take place Friday and Saturday inside the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Center.
But, according to most, the "real" Washington team title was won last weekend at the highly-competitive West Central District meet. Coming in, everyone knew the district championships, which were held at Mount Rainier High School, were going to be a meat grinder. The meet featured four teams who could literally win a state team championship in Mount Rainier, Thomas Jefferson, Beamer and Emerald Ridge, among others.
But during the 2011-12 season, only one team from the humongous West Central District advanced into the state meet and that proved to be Mount Rainier. The Rams, led by a pair of level 10 gymnasts, posted a school-record 177.3 points to outdistance Jefferson (176.275), Emerald Ridge (175.425) and Beamer (173.95).
To illustrate the competitiveness at the West Central District meet, all you have to do is look around the state at other state qualifiers. The scores from the top four teams were higher than scores posted at separate meets last weekend by the three other state qualifiers — Mead (173.825), defending state-champion Newport (172.825) and Woodinville (171.9).
But, despite not qualifying for the team competition, Jefferson and Beamer will have several opportunities at bringing home some hardware from the Tacoma Dome.
Leading the way is TJ's Madi Kellar. The senior finished second in the all-around Saturday to Mount Rainier's Cheyenne Gavino, just one-tenth of a point behind. Kellar, who finished fifth in the all-around last year, won the uneven parallel bars with a 9.425 and was second on the balance beam with a 9.625.
Beamer's Sam West will also be competing in her final state meet. During her stellar career, West has finished second as a sophomore and third last year in the all-around competition. At the district meet, West ended up fourth in the all-around with 37.225 points and was third on the bars (9.05) and balance beam (9.55).
But the best opportunity at a state championship might come from Jefferson's Monica Church on the floor exercise. The junior dazzled at district's with a 9.75 to win the event.
Also competing this weekend will be Beamer's Leah Freeborn (vault, bars, beam and floor) and Kasey Johnson (bars and beam), Jefferson's Shelby Church (vault and beam) and Kaylynne Fuller (beam).
The Decatur Gators will also be well represented during the 1A/2A/3A State Meet Friday and Saturday. Anna Paradee leads the way for the Gators after finishing fourth in the all-around at the district meet with 34.8 points. Paradee will compete in all four events at state.
Decatur's contingent will also include Shawntell Bali (vault, bars, beam and floor) and Victoria Braun (vault, beam and floor).
Class 3A/4A Swimming and Diving
The state's best swimmers and divers will converge on the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center Friday and Saturday. Included in those will be three individuals from the Federal Way school district.
Beamer's Dylan Chase will compete in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events and Federal Way's Spencer Berry qualified in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke in the Class 4A division. Decatur's Evan Sobus will compete in the Class 3A 1-meter diving event.
The 3A preliminary round will kick off Friday, Feb. 17 at 9:45 a.m. with finals behind held at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18. The 4A prelims will start at 2:30 p.m. Friday and finals will begin at 2:15 p.m. Saturday.
Chase enters the state meet with the seventh-best time in the 50 free (22.39) and the eighth-best 100 free time (49.74). Berry sports the 15th best 100 fly time (55.18) and 21st-ranked 100 back (57.98). Sobus qualified with the 17th-best diving score of 289.15 points.
The Federal Way 200 medley relay team of Tim Davis, Trace Gooden, Berry and Aaron Persinger qualified with the 23rd fastest time in the state (1:48.46).