The Emerald Ridge gymnastics team doesn’t just want to win. It wants to make history.
Saturday, the Jaguars did just that as they clinched their first team berth to the Class 4A state meet by winning the West Central District III and Greater Spokane District VIII meet at Mount Rainier High School.
“It’s exciting; I can’t even describe it,” Emerald Ridge coach Bobbi Jones said. “They’ve earned it; they’ve worked so hard this year. Every year, we’re so close. So to finally get there, it’s so exciting.”
Making the victory even sweeter was that Emerald Ridge knocked off last year’s state champion, Mead of Spokane, making the Panthers unable to defend their title.
The Greater Spokane League took a gamble by merging its district tournament with the WCD in hopes of qualifying Mead and Central Valley. Instead, the top two finishers were from the South Puget Sound League. Emerald Ridge won with 176.3 points and Jefferson finished a half-point ahead of Mead, with 169.7.
Traditionally, West Central and Greater Spokane districts each have one team qualify, but this year, both had two shots at taking teams to the state tournament.
“They have four schools and we have 15 in the SPSL and every year they got to send one,” Jones said. “I feel like this is much fairer – it evens the playing field.”
Additionally, three all-around winners and 10 individuals in each event move on to the Tacoma Dome next weekend.
“It’s really disappointing, but we had our chances,” said Mead senior Cadie Pratt. “After we messed up on a couple of events, I knew I had to go out there and keep competing and doing my best.”
The focus paid off. Pratt won the uneven bars with a score of 9.25 and will also compete in the all-around competition at state.
“I’m proud of my (score),” she said. “I think I did really well.”
All-around winner CaroLyne Schmidt, one of seven seniors on the Emerald Ridge team, said the Jaguars were a bit apprehensive when they heard that Mead was coming. Despite adding some necessary depth with underclassmen this season, the Jaugars remembered all too well what it felt like to finish a close third at last year’s district meet.
“We were a little scared,” Schmidt said. “And when we beat them, we were a lot more excited.”
Winning the all-around was something Schmidt had dreamed of throughout high school. Her performance was buoyed by an impressive 9.725 points on the vault.
“I’ve worked so hard these past four years, and it’s really fun to finally get to first place,” she said. “It’s a great feeling.”
Emerald Ridge senior Elizabeth Clemens said that the Jaguars worked harder at each meet this season to propel themselves toward their goal.
“Starting off the season, we knew we had a really strong team with a lot of potential,” said Clemens, who won the beam (9.45) and floor exercise (9.65). “It feels great to have that first place in our hands and be on the way to state.”
Also competing in the state all-around competition will be Ashley Pernell of Kentlake and Katya Komissarova of Mount Rainier.