Railer seventh at state gymnastics

Mark Schnabel
Newton foreign exchange student Cecilia Merlini competes on the balance beam at the state meet.

The Newton High School gymnastics team posted strong scores in the vault and floor exercises, but struggled on the balance beam and uneven parallel bars, finishing seventh Saturday at the KSHSAA State Championships at Ravenscroft Gym.

Lawrence Free State won the team title over Olathe North 107.313-106.175. Olathe West was third at 104.45. Newton scored a 95.513.

Talia Gay of Free State won her third straight all-around title and helped lead her team to a team title. Gay won the uneven parallel bars at 9.4125 and the balance beam at 9.65. She was second on the floor exercises at 9.475 and tied for third on the vault at 9.2.

“It’s amazing, I’m just so happy,” Gay said. “And then to put it together for a team award, it’s just so amazing. Everything went well. I stuck every landing. That was so neat. Those stuck landings really add up. That makes the total even bigger.”

Gay said she’s giving up competitive gymnastics. She said she intends to attend Washburn, majoring in radiology technology or business.

Paris Spotted Tail of Lawrence won both the vault at 9.5 and floor exercises 9.55.

Toria Thaw led Newton in all-around at 33.0875, followed by Elisa Fernandez at 31.5878 and Berkley Roberson at 29.7625.

Newton opened the day on the balance beam, posting a team score of 23.15. Elisa Fernandez led the way for Newton with an 8.05. Cecilia Merlini had the sole no-fall routine for the Railers.

Newton rebounded on the floor exercises with a 25.225. Thaw led the way with an 8.65, followed by Cecilia Merlini at 8.45, Berkley Roberson at 8.125 and Fernandez at 8.1.

The Railers improved their score even more on the vault with a 25.7. Thaw led the way at 8.7, followed by Elise Jantz at 8.5, Roberson at 8.5 and Fernandez at 8.4.

“I feel really bad because Toria should have placed on at least three events,” Newton coach JoAnne Thaw said. “She just couldn’t get it today. We just got out of quarantine today, so at least we got to compete. I’m not disappointed because we got to compete here. We were able to make it to state.”

Newton loses two seniors — Toria Thaw and Jantz. Newton also loses Merlini, an exchange student from Italy.

“It was our exchange student was the one who hit beam,” JoAnne Thaw said. “I’ll tell you what I did. When she got quarantined, I took a beam over to her house and told her to work on her tricks. We’re going to miss our seniors. I know I have a couple of freshmen coming out. Hopefully, they’ll do well.”

State Gymnastics Championships




Ravenscroft Gym,


Team scores — Lawrence Free State 107.313, Olathe North 106.175, Olathe West 104.45, Shawnee Mission Northwest 98.075, Shawnee Mission East 96.55, Olathe East 96.425, Newton 95.513, Lawrence 93.825.


All-Around — 1. Talia Gay LFS 37.7375, 2. Kylie Ray ON 35.35, 3. Alexis Purdy OW 35.9375, 4. Kenzie Vaugh LFS 35.475, 5. Makenzie Juneau OW 34.85, 6. Cierra Ladesich SMNW 34.15.

Vault — 1. Paris Spotted Tail Law. 9.5, 2. Vaughn LFS 9.4, 3. (tie) Gay LFS 9.2, Ray ON 9.2, Avery Wilson SME 9.2, 6. Sarah Adams OE 9.1.

Uneven parallel bars — 1. Gay LFS 9.4125, 2. Juneau OW 8.7, 3. Purdy OW 8.4375, 4. Rylie Jahner ON 8.4, 5. Ray ON 8.2, 6. Zakiaya Gibson (Shawnee Mission Northwest) 8.1375.

Balance beam — 1. Gay LFS 9.65, 2. (tie) Ray ON 9.6, Purdy OW 9.6, 4. Vaughn LFS 9.125, 5. Dari Johnson OW 9.05, 6. Hallie Robertson (Olathe Northwest) 9.0.

Floor exercises — 1. Spotted Tail Law. 9.55, 2. Gay LFS 9.475, 3. Ray ON 9.35, 4. Delaney Stanley ON 9.25, 5. Purdy OW 9.1, 6. Jill Klusman ON 9.025.

Newton scores

All-Around — 13. Toria Thaw 33.0875, 17. Elisa Fernandez 31.5878, 27. Berkley Roberson 29.7625.

Vault (25.7) — t13. Thaw 8.7, t29. Elise Jantz 8.5, Roberson 8.5, t35. Fernandez 8.4, 40. Janessa Sutton 7.6.

Uneven parallel bars (21.438) — 10. Thaw 7.9625, 19. Fernandez 7.0375, 27. Roberson 6.4375, 32. Jantz 6.075, 40. Georgia Garcia 4.6875.

Balance beam (23.15) — 22. Fernandez 8.05, 27. Thaw 7.775, 31. Jantz 7.325, 38. Roberson 6.7, 39. Ceclia Merlini 6.375.

Floor exercises (25.225) — t11. Thaw 8.65, 22. Merlini 8.45, 30. Roberson 8.125, 31. Fernandez 8.1, 40. Bartley 7.55.

Newton sophomore Elisa Fernandez competes on the balance beam during the state meet Saturday at Newton.