Lily Gunning, a senior competing for her high-school team for the first time, was first in three of four events to win the Class 3A/2A championship.
TACOMA — Lily Gunning of Holy Names made her one season as a high-school gymnast one to remember.
Gunning, a senior and a level-9 club gymnast who had not previously competed at the high-school level, placed first in three of four events and won the Class 3A/2A state all-around title Thursday night at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall with a score of 38.125.
Gunning’s teammates backed up her great night with a wave of solid performances as the Cougars posted a season-high score of 178.15, earning Holy Names a second consecutive team crown.
“This was our best meet of the entire season,” coach Donny Gallegos said. “We increased our difficulty throughout the lineup, and everybody did well.”
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Holy Names topped second-place Kamiakin of Kennewick (171.225) by nearly seven points. Lake Washington (167.65) placed third for a second straight season, edging Ballard (167.05).
Defending all-around champ Sydney Griswold of Sammamish, who took first on vault with a glittering 9.6, finished second in the all-around (37.375). Lake Washington senior Kaysha Walford took third (36.775), followed by Ballard freshman Lianne Kistler (36.75), Abigail Winstead of Kamiakin (36.35) and Nina Evans of Auburn Mountainview (36.175).
Gunning tied for first on floor (9.575) with Griswold, Winstead and senior teammate Maria Gallivan, and won bars (9.425) and beam (9.55) outright. She placed second on vault (9.575).
She punctuated a precise and elegant beam routine by nailing her round-off full dismount.
“I was happy that I stuck beam,” Gunning said. “There was a really good atmosphere here. The cheering was really nice. It was a good team environment.”
Why did she wait until her senior year to compete for her high-school team?
“My parents were really pushing for me to do high-school gymnastics because they really wanted me to have a team experience,” she said. “It’s been really fun. I’m glad that I did it. It’s so supportive, so it helps you feel like you can put your best self forward and show it off.”
Griswold, who wowed the crowd with her highflying Yurchenko pike on vault, struggled with her dismounts on beam (8.825) and bars (9.375). She and Gunning were even entering their final events, but a stumble on her bars landing was costly.
“I’m just disappointed about my beam dismount and bars dismount,” the sophomore said. “I don’t know. I think my nerves got to me a little bit more than usual, especially with my last event, bars. Bars isn’t my favorite. I tried hard. Now I’ll try and get those top scores for finals tomorrow. Having that weight to get that second title in a row is hard. It’s a lot of pressure. But I’ve got two more years to get that title again.”
Walford finished fourth on vault (9.325) and bars (9.25). What pleased her most?
“Honestly, I’m just glad I didn’t fall,” she said. “I could have done better, but I’m happy.”
Thursday night’s top 16 finishers will compete in Friday’s Class 3A/2A individual event finals, with march-in at 10:45 a.m. Team and all-around finals for Class 4A take place in two sessions Friday at 2 and 6 p.m.