By Mark Schnabel
In a season that almost wasn’t, the Newton High School gymnastics team made the most of it, winning its first state title in 33 years Saturday at the state championships at Ravenscroft Gym.
The Railers tied with Lawrence Free State for the state title. Each team scored 103.525 points Shawnee Mission Northwest was third at 102.95. Northwest was deducted a point from the team score for an “illegal inquiry.” Shawnee Mission South was fourth at 99.975, followed by Shawnee Mission North at 97.125, Shawnee Mission East at 96.15, Olathe North at 93.55 and Olathe South at 91.8.
“We knew all along, we had a good chance to finish in the top three,” Newton coach JoAnne Thaw said. “I knew in my heart of hearts, we could get first. I felt we needed a couple more things to get first, but the girls did it with what they had. They did the best they could. They did everything so well. We hit beam and floor. We hit all of our individual events.”
Threatened with budget cuts during the summer, the team members had to raise money to ensure the season would take place.
“We never let it get us down,” Thaw said. “I never told them compete like this was their last meet. I didn’t do that.”
Senior Drue Davis of Lawrence Free State won the all-around title at 35.9. Davis won the title on the vault at 9.5, took second on balance beam at 8.85 and took second on the floor exercises at 9.2.
“I didn’t have a perfect meet,” Davis said. “I had a better meet at league and regionals. I guess it all came together at the end. I wasn’t very satisfied with my results, but I’m happy with the finish. The scoring wasn’t very high, but they were consistent with their judging.”
Sierra Trussell of Shawnee Mission Northwest took second in all-around at 35.8. Trussell won the balance beam title at 8.9, took second on the vault at 9.35, tied for third on the uneven parallel bars at 8.675 and fifth on the floor exercises at 8.875.
Katye Bever of Shawnee Mission East won the uneven parallel bars at 8.825.
The Railers were led by sophomore Riley Roberts, who took third in all-around at 35.5. Roberts won the floor exercises at 9.325, the last Newton performance of the meet. Roberts tied for sixth on the vault at 8.8, took third on the balance beam at 8.7 and tied for third on the uneven parallel bars at 8.675.
“I just went out there for my last even and worked it,” Roberts said of her floor routine. “I did the best I could. I’m excited about (all-around). Both (the girls in front) are seniors. That’s pretty cool. I got third on balance beam and tied on vault and bars. State champs is crazy. It was great to tie for that. Nobody expected that. We thought we were going to get third. I’m just going to work really hard for next year. It really makes me excited.”
Page 2 of 3 - Roberts all-around finish was the highest for a Newton gymnast in years. Christi Lehman of Hesston won the state all-around title in about 2000, when Hesston and Newton competed together.
Newton junior Jamie Hansen claimed a sixth-place medal in the all-around at 34.225. Hansen took second in the uneven parallel bars at 8.7.
“It was a really, really good meet for me,” Hansen said. “I nailed my bars routine. I gave it my all. It all came together.”
Newton junior Maria Jantz took fifth on the vault at 8.85.
The Railers closed with their highest team score — the floor exercises. Roberts scored a 9.325 to win the event and give Newton a 26.325. Hansen scored an 8.6 and Jantz scored an 8.45. Brittany Dalke scored a 7.95 and Katelin Gaeddert scored a 7.7.
“We have not hit on floor like that,” Thaw said. “We’d have one or two hit in a meet, different girls each time. For Riley to come through and win it, she thought she’d have to hit a full. I told her go out there with what you’ve got, and she did.”
The Railers opened with a 26.2 team score on the vault. Jantz led the Railer charge with an 8.85, followed by Roberts with an 8.8, Hansen with an 8.55, Gaeddert with an 8.3 and Dalke with a 7.75.
On the uneven parallel bars, the Railers had a 25.775. Hansen led the Railers with an 8.7, followed by Roberts at 8.675, Dalke at 8.4, Jantz at 8.175 and Katie Wonders at 7.6.
The Railers had three no-fall routines on the balance beam — Roberts at 8.7, Hansen at 8.375 and Wonders at 8.1. Katie Yoder and Jantz each had one fall, finishing at 7.225 and 7.4 respectively. Newton finished with a team score of 25.175.
Newton loses seniors Dalke, Wonders and Yoder.
“Brittany hit on bars,” Thaw said. “She never scored an 8 before and got an 8.4. She hit it beautifully.”
Team scores — Lawrence Free State 103.525, Newton 103.525 (tie), Shawnee Mission Northwest 102.95, Shawnee Mission South 99.975, Shawnee Mission North 97.125, Shawnee Mission East 96.15, Olathe North 93.55, Olathe South 91.8. Olathe East, Olathe Northwest, Lawrence individuals only.
All-Around — 1. Drue Davis LFS 35.9, 2. Sierra Trussell SMNW 35.8, 3. Riley Roberts N 35.5, 4. Elayna Briggs ONW 35.45, 5. Kelcy Bowers LFS 34.65, 6. Jamie Hansen N 34.225.
Vault — 1. Drue Davis LFS 9.5, 2. Sierra Trussell SMNW 9.35, 3. Jessica Tingle SMNW 9.3, 4. Elayna Briggs ONW 9.050, 5. Maria Jantz N 8.85, 6. (tie) Monica Funk SMS 8.8, Kelcy Bowers LFS 8.8, Mary Jane Graves SMNW 8.8, Riley Roberts N 8.8, Lizzie Sanford ON 8.8.
Balance beam — 1. Sierra Trussell SNNW 8.9, 2. Drue Davis LFS 8.85, 3. Riley Roberts N 8.7, 4. Kelcy Bowers LFS 8.65, 5. Camry Jones SMNW 8.65, 6. (tie) Lizzie Sanford ON 8.6, Elayna Briggs ONW 8.6.
Uneven parallel bars — 1. Katye Bever SME 8.825, 2. Jamie Hansen N 8.7, 3. (tie) Sierra Trussell SMNW 8.675, Riley Roberts N 8.675, 5. Elayna Briggs ONW 8.65, 6. Kelcy Bowers LFS 8.6.
Floor exercises — 1. Riley Roberts N 9.325, 2. Drue Davis LFS 9.2, 3. Elayna Briggs ONW 9.15, 4. Kendra Martiny SMS 9.1, 5. Sierra Trussell SMNW 8.875, 6. Aly Frydman LFS 8.675.
Page 3 of 3 - Newton scores
Vault (26.2) — Brittany Dalke 7.75, Katelin Gaeddert 8.3, Jamie Hansen 8.55, Riley Roberts 8.8, Maria Jantz 8.85.
Uneven parallel bars (25.775) — Kami Wonders 7.6, Dalke 8.4, Jantz 8.175, Hansen 8.7, Riley 8.675.
Balance beam (25.175) — Katie Yoder 7.225, Wonders 8.1, Jantz 7.4, Hansen 8.375, Roberts 8.7.
Floor exercises (26.325) — Gaeddert 7.7, Dalke 7.95, Jantz 8.45, Hansen 8.6, Roberts 9.325.