The Cougars use strong finishes on bars and beam to edge Lake Washington for their third straight 3A/2A state gymnastics title.

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The three-peat is complete for Holy Names.

Rebounding from an uncharacteristically shaky performance on vault, the Cougars rallied with strong showings on bars and beam, their final rotations of the meet, and claimed their third straight 3A/2A state gymnastics title against a high-scoring, talent-packed field Thursday night at Sammamish High School.

“It just came together,” said Holy Names coach Donny Gallegos. “We had three falls in vault, and after that, I didn’t think this was going to happen. Everybody looked tired, but I told them they have to stay focused. We’re at the finish line, let’s do this. Don’t give up now.

“We went back and everyone centered themselves, focused on their breathing, and we had the best finish to a meet I think we’ve had the last couple of years. I’m just over the moon.”

Holy Names, without placing a gymnast in the top eight in all-around, recorded a team score of 181.325, barely edging Lake Washington (180.275), a team it lost to twice during the regular season. In third was Kamiakin of Kennewick (179.55), a team that put together its own streak of three straight 3A titles earlier this decade.

Ballard, with sophomore Lianne Kistler placing third in all-around (37.575), posted its best score of the season (177.825) and placed fourth. Mount Spokane, with sophomores Gina Twenge (37.6) and Hanna Hill (37.3) finishing second and seventh in all-around, took fifth.

“We were all neck-and-neck,” Gallegos said. “I just didn’t think this was going to happen. Lake Washington has been so strong all season, so I knew it was going to be a fight, but my girls were up for it, obviously.”

The struggles on vault were perplexing to Gallegos. “The vaults we were doing in practice yesterday were amazing,” he said. “It was surprising to see this tonight.”

Senior Allison McGinnis was one Holy Names gymnasts who misfired on vault. “I’m so mad,” she said. “I haven’t fallen in vault … in a long time. I had the flu at districts (on Saturday) and my vault was fine.

“The vault was definitely stressful,” McGinnis said. “In the past, when we come off of a high and get into a rut, we’ve had a hard time getting back out of the rut. So I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to pull out of it this time. But we completely turned around. That’s what I’m most proud of, how we turned around, because I didn’t know we were capable of that.”

Fellow senior Kaysa Lundberg shared her teammate’s sense of pride. “We knew we had to get it together for the rest of the event,” she said. “We had a team huddle, and Donny encouraged us and told us … that we had to trust ourselves and trust our training. This is it. We just had to tell ourselves to be confident and know we could do it.”

Kamiakin junior Amaya Gales, a former level 10 club gymnast competing in her first high-school season, claimed the all-around title (37.925). Junior Sydney Griswold of Sammamish, who won the all-around crown as a freshman and took second last year, finished fourth (37.55) after a fall on beam. Lake Washington freshman Laly Noriega placed sixth (37.375) and Juanita’s Allison Lofquist took eighth (37.1).