And when she returned, she won the state all-around title as a freshman. She’s favored for a repeat as the state meet begins Thursday.
Knocked down. You get back up.
Knocked down again. You get back up.
Knocked down again. At some point, you wonder if it’s worth it.
When: Thursday, Class 3A/2A team and all-around finals: two sessions, noon and 4 p.m. Friday: 3A/2A individual finals, 10:45 a.m. Class 4A team and all-around finals: two sessions, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday: 4A individual finals, 10:45 a.m.
Where: Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall
Follow along: On Twitter, @wiaawa.
Top storylines: In Class 4A, Woodinville edged North Creek of Bothell to win its district meet (176.75-176.3) and is gunning for a fifth straight state title — a feat no school in either classification has achieved since separate 4A and 3A/2A meets were introduced in 1998. But the Falcons, who also won four straight championships 2007-2010, will be challenged by Camas (181.7 at its district). Top all-around performers Kylie Mosset (37.0 at district) and Ellie Mann (36.2) lead Woodinville’s roster. “Gymnastics is about offense, not defense,” Woodinville coach Kathie Koch said. “We’re just trying to add difficulty and fix our form for state.” North Creek’s Jordan Creel (36.125) and Hannah Shull (35.9) will keep the first-year Jaguars in the mix. … Last year, Holy Names won its first Class 3A/2A title and broke a three-year championship streak by Kamiakin of Kennewick. The Cougars (176.8) topped a 22-team district field last Saturday, where Kamiakin placed second (173.825). They may be even deeper this year. “I have a team that’s not in my lineup that could contend with the teams here,” coach Donny Gallegos said after Saturday’s district win. Depth also benefits Lake Washington, where top scorers Kaysha Walford, Audrey Arnold and Paige Chickering hope to match or improve on last year’s third-place state finish.
Five to watch (based on district scores): Sydney Griswold, Sammamish (38.175); Kaysha Walford, Lake Washington (37.55); Ali Tate, Auburn (37.375); Lianne Kistler, Ballard (37.25); Lily Gunning, Holy Names (37.175).
Favorites: Camas, Woodinville and North Creek in 4A; Holy Names, Kamiakin, Ballard and Lake Washington in 3A/2A.
Last: After 30 years, it’s possible this will be the last state meet at the Exhibition Hall. Key factor: As part of the Tacoma Dome’s renovation, temporary bleachers used for spectators are being discarded. Nothing is official, but a WIAA rep confirms alternative sites are being researched. It’s been the home to the state meet since 1989.
Sydney Griswold was a promising level 8 club gymnast when she began seventh grade. Then came the injuries.
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A broken wrist knocked her out of training for two months. Shortly after it mended, she fractured a heel during a regional competition, sidelining her for nearly three more months.
By her eighth-grade year, she had returned to regular training and competition, but after a meet in December she could not shake chronic pain in her back.
“I took weeks off because it was hurting,” said Griswold, who describes herself as loud and sassy. “We took X-rays. That didn’t show anything. It still hurt. In January we got an MRI. That showed I had a pars stress fracture on both sides of my L5 (vertebrae).
“I believe it’s called spondylolysis,” she said, so familiar with the term that she stated it as if it’s routine in any teenager’s vocabulary. “I had rehab and (physical therapy) and doctor’s appointments all the time. I couldn’t do anything for months.”
She said all the injuries took the love away from the sport. She finally quit club gymnastics.
A tough move? “Quitting was hard,” she conceded, “but honestly, it had to be one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.”
Griswold found a new stage for her talents last year as a freshman member of the Sammamish gymnastics team. She won the Class 3A/2A state all-around title and individual bars title.
Griswold, 15, will enter the state meet as the all-around favorite. The 5-foot-2 sophomore was the only gymnast at any district meet, in any classification, to post an all-around score of at least 38 (38.175, a personal best).
Griswold says the everybody’s-welcome culture at Sammamish cultivated by a coaching collective — Jerry Penney (a local legend who retired following last year’s state meet after 47 seasons), Jennifer Genoway and Jessica Buck — was a revelation to her.
“The team, the environment, it’s so amazing how supportive of each other we are,” Griswold said. “In club, you want to do well for yourself. In high school, it’s both, yourself and your team. You want everyone else to do well, so you push yourself for the team, for your school.”
Genoway, who teaches at Tillicum Middle School where she watched Griswold in seventh grade roll through hallways on a mobility scooter while her heel mended, is grateful Griswold gave the sport another shot.
“She came from an environment where it was more like a job,” she said. “I told her, ‘I want you to finish on a good note, on your terms, not injury terms.’
“During the first month, she was around kids who had never even done gymnastics,” Genoway said. “In that first month she saw the reward of having diversity on the team — of skill, personality, social circles, different ages. All of that was more rewarding than the gymnastics itself. Her love for it came back pretty quick.”
Griswold’s mother, Nadia Mobley, agrees. “Jerry, Jenny and Jessica built a community of a bunch of girls that probably wouldn’t actually spend time together,” she said. “It ends up being a place where they all want to go at the end of every day.
“That made a difference to Sydney. The community at Sammamish let her evolve, be her best gymnast, and she fell in love with the sport again. That ended being the blessing in disguise — that somebody could have such a struggle, lose the thing you’re most talented at doing, that you’re passionate about, and find it again. That’s pretty exciting.”
Genoway says Griswold basically serves as assistant coach for the team.
“She’s 100 percent in it for everybody else,” she said. “She’s always trying to make everybody else better. She almost spends more time helping them than helping herself. It’s completely selfless. It’s fun to watch her.”
Griswold, who stepped away from gymnastics for six months and even took part in track and field last spring, said the joy is back in the sport she loves.
“It was one of the best years of my life,” she said. “I had so much fun. Now I’m so excited to see everybody on this team grow as gymnasts, as a team and as individuals.”