BELLEVUE — It was a record-setting night for the Lake Washington gymnastics team, and as a result members of the Kangaroos’ five-person coaching staff have to fulfill a promise.
“The first year we were in state, four years ago, I told the girls if we won I’d jump in the Sound,” said assistant coach Debi Blaskovich. “It was in Tacoma, and it was really cold. I knew we wouldn’t win, so I was just trying to motivate them.
“Then, we just kept saying it every year, and this year I kind of figured we were going to have to jump in the water, but now we’ll do it in Lake Washington. But the kids don’t know I have a wet suit. There’s no rules against wet suits!”
And there was no stopping the Kangs on Thursday night at the Class 3A/2A state gymnastics meet as Lake Washington posted the highest Class 3A team score since separate 4A and 3A/2A state meets were established 24 years ago, racking up 185.725 points at Sammamish High School.
The Kangaroos’ total is the second-highest state total, regardless of classification, trailing only the 187.375 posted by Class 4A Woodinville in 2016.
Lake Washington, which last year finished second to three-time champion Holy Names by just 0.05 of a point, topped Sammamish (which recorded a season-best 180.95), Kamiakin of Kennewick 176.425 and Mount Spokane (171.900).
Coach Katie Perrigoue anticipated her Lake Washington squad, after putting up 183.95 points a week ago at its district meet, was on the threshold of something great.
“We were shooting for a 186,” she said. “We improved our score at district in all four events tonight. We truly have an exceptional group of young ladies this year.”
No one was more exceptional for the Kangs than sophomore Laly Noriega, who won the all-around state title at 38.275, followed by Amaya Gales of Kamiakin (38.075) and Katharine Cooper of Bainbridge (37.525).
Noriega’s leadership impressed her coach as LW advanced to postseason competition.
“She was the one encouraging everyone to be better,” Perrigoue said. “We wanted them to be the best that they could be. She knew what they had in them, and she would bring that out in everyone.
“She would say, ‘I know I’ve seen you do it better than that. This is what you need to do.’ She would be that other coach for us, and she could relate to them as a gymnast instead of coach-to-gymnast. She knows what they’re going through.”
Noriega agreed everything clicked for LW Thursday.
“The whole team was relaxed, and we just knew what we had to do,” she said. “It was just a good day for everyone.”
LW finished one-two-three on floor: Nicole Tribolet (9.725), Payton Yoshida (9.7) and Noriega, who tied with Ingraham’s Gracyn Brunette for third with a 9.625.
Noriega posted the night’s best score on beam (9.775) executing a beautiful backflip tuck. Sammamish’s Aiko Hirai had the night’s top score on bars (9.6), and Ballard junior Lianne Kistler hit 9.675 for the best score on vault.
Complete results here.