Sports

Gymnasts swing into new season

By COLE COSGROVE

Associate editor

The Federal Way gymnastics team is expected to be among the best in the state and they proved it Wednesday in the first meet of the season.

The Eagles scored the most points of any team in the league this week as junior Lauren Webb took first place in three events — bars, beam and vault — to win the all-around with a score of 37.9.

The Eagles have experience, confidence and “a desire to go back to state and do even better,” coach Bev McIrvin said.

Last year and in 1999, Federal Way finished third at the state meet.

Doing “even better” would mean the Eagles would be first or second.

The Eagles return five athletes who competed at state last year, including Webb, who placed ninthin the all-around. Webb also was second on the vault at state during the individual competition.

In addition to Webb, Federal Way returns four others who competed in the all-around at state and will be a key to the Eagles’ success this year: seniors Robin Luedke, Jodie Spillner and Kellie Horrocks and junior Brianne Hall.

“Trying to stay healthy will be the first key,” McIrvin said. “We’re taking it day by day and working on our skills and having clean routines.”

Sophomore Leslie McKinnon also is contributing as a newcomer to the team. She finished third in the all-around in Wednesday’s meet.

But despite the Eagles’ solid state experience, McIrvin and her team aren’t taking anything for granted.

“There’s never an easy year,” McIrvin said. “You still have tough teams you have to beat.”

One of those teams is Decatur, which also returns five gymnasts with state experience.

“I think (the team) will be up there in the top five or six (in the SPSL),” coach Mandy Tommervik said. “We were surprised with how well they did at the first meet.”

Senior Kelly Miller went to state last year and placed fifth in the all-around — the best all-around placement of all the Federal Way-area gymnasts last year.

Miller placed 10th at state on both the vault and the bars and was eighth on the beam.

Junior Jamie Decker competed in three events at state while seniors Carly DeVries, Jessica Eisenberg and Alyssa Wood competed on the beam at state. The Gators should be able to build on that experience, with the additional benefit of newcomer Jennifer Ashton, a sophomore.

The team is strongest on the beam and floor, but could use more improvement on the bars, Tommervik said.

“We work a lot on the bars,” Tommervik said. “But that’s pretty much every team’s struggle.”

The Jefferson gymnastics team is younger and less experienced than it has been in recent seasons.

“We’re really young and sometimes we forget that and expect more,” coach Debbie Hunter said. “We’re getting them used to high school, moving forward, learning more skills and having more confidence in the routines.”

Juniors Andrea Kasper, Sarah Cherian and Stacy Lyver will lead the team as the most experienced. Kasper competed on the vault and bars at state and Cherian competed on the vault.

New contributors to the team are senior Mandy Wolf and sophomore twins Jessica and Erin Schroeder.

The team is the strongest on the vault and bars, where it has several athletes participating.

“We need to improve in the execution of the routines,” Hunter said.

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