Woodinville gymnastics, a perennial power in one of high school’s outer-orbit sports, may reach even greater heights at this weekend’s state meet in Tacoma. There the Falcons are expected to win their third straight 4A team championship and their seventh in the past 10 years.

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This dynasty wears sequins.

Woodinville gymnastics, a perennial power in one of high school’s outer-orbit sports, may reach even greater heights at this weekend’s state meet in Tacoma.

There the Falcons are expected to win their third straight 4A team championship, their seventh in the past 10 years, with an especially deep roster that could set a new meet record.

If you go

State Gymnastics Championships


Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall


Friday — Team and all-around championships (3A/2A, Individuals 8:30 a.m. Teams, 12:45 p.m.)

(4A, Teams and Individuals, 5:50 p.m.)

5:50 p.m. Teams and individuals

Saturday — Individual event championships, 11 a.m.


Single day: Adults $17; students/seniors $11

All-tournament pass; Adults $24; students/seniors $17

The all-time mark: 186.825 points (Bainbridge, 2005). That, remarkably, is the exact total Woodinville posted Feb. 6 while winning the KingCo 4A Championships.

At last Saturday’s district meet, the Falcons lit it up again with a total of 185.325, more than 11 points higher than the No. 2 4A state qualifier, Olympia (173.85).

“These girls have been working really hard to refine their routines,” said second-year coach Kathie Koch, who as Kathie Cradduck won the 1992 Division II all-around title as a member of Seattle Pacific’s national championship team. “Their scores show it.”

Woodinville gymnasts have finished 1-2-3 in all-around at both of its postseason meets. Last week senior Marisa Savage, the 2014 4A state all-around champion, won the district title with 38.5, followed by juniors Alli McManus (38.075) and Paige Hirata (37.75).

Why such a concentration of talent in one town? Lots of gyms. Woodinville has three of them within its borders. A fourth – Gymnastics Connection, run by former WHS coach Kim Smothermon and formerly located a mile from the school – moved to Kirkland two years ago.

Gymnasts with collegiate aspirations bypass high school teams to train year-round at clubs. But club refugees such as Savage (a level 8 performer until she abandoned the rigors of club after her freshman year) find fewer demands and greater camaraderie on a high school team. Other locals who as youths got hooked on the sport at one of the clubs gravitate to Woodinville and its winning tradition.

“Alli McManus and I have done gymnastics together probably since the age of 5,” said Savage. “We did club together, switched gyms together and now are doing high school together. That’s exciting for us.

“When I was in club, I spent more time with my club teammates than my family at home,” she said with a laugh. “I started at three and did club until my freshman year, and I know a lot of the other girls on the team have come from a club background. That’s obviously a factor in our success. We’ve been training pretty much our entire lives.”

Savage now takes long breaks from gymnastics and devotes several months a year to her other sport, lacrosse. But when it’s gym season, Savage says she and her 16 teammates are a focused bunch.

Five Gymnasts to Watch

Elena Fowler, Holy Names — The junior throws an impressive Tsukahara pike on vault. She won the event at her district meet last week with a 9.75 and posted an all-around total of 37.0.

Kayla Porter Auburn Mountainview — The junior lost last year’s 3A/2A all-around title by 0.75. Her 38.275 last week is the best 3A/2A district score statewide.

Ali Tate, Auburn — Despite aching legs, the sophomore won two events and placed second to Porter in the all-around (37.525) at their district meet last week.

Alli McManus, Woodinville — The junior edged senior teammate Marisa Savage by a fraction to win the KingCo 4A all-around title. She was second last week at district.

Naleia Gomes, Mount Rainier — The freshman and former level 9 club gymnast won floor at her district meet with a glittering 9.725.

“The girls are self-motivated and externally motivated from each other, cheering each other on,” she said. ”We’ve put in so many hours of hard work together, and it really pays off at the end.”

Koch says of the 11 gymnasts on her postseason roster, six train year-round.

Five Teams to Watch

Newport — The Knights rely heavily on freshman and former level 9 club competitor Maddie LoMauro (fourth in district all-around with 37.125) and junior Claire Gorman (eighth, 35.4).

Mount Rainier — The Rams placed three among the top 15 all-around finishers at its district meet: Naleia Gomes (third, 37.225), Hailey Sagmoen (ninth, 35.575) and Regan Hunt (13th, 34.8).

Holy Names — At 169.825, the Cougars, led by Elena Fowler and a deep supporting cast, have the best chance to challenge 3A/2A favorite. Kamiakin (176.25).

Enumclaw — The Hornets, led by senior Victoria Hernandez, have won two state 3A/2A titles and finished twice three times since making gymnastics a varsity sport in 2011.

Ballard — Clara Yardley (35.725 in all-around at last week’s district meet in her home gym) will aim to lift Ballard into the top half of the 3A/2A field.

“Most of these kids have had some pretty extensive club training in their elementary years, and when they get to Woodinville they’ve got the basic foundations for a lot of skills,” she said. “Most of them continue to gain in difficulty after they’ve got those basic skills.”

Koch says the team’s culture values sportsmanship, not swagger.

“We’ve talked about how to win with grace and how to lose with grace, and I think they’ve really taken to that,” Koch said. “The attitude from other schools has been very respectful this year.

“We’re of the mind that, we’re good and we win and that’s great, but that doesn’t make us better than anybody else. We just happen to be better at gymnastics that day. It’s OK to be good at your sport, but keeping the girls humble is important to me.”